Wellington Phoenix slump to third straight loss

SAM WORTHINGTON
Last updated 18:36 11/11/2012
Steyn Huysegem
Ross Giblin/Fairfax NZ
BAD DAY: Steyn Huysegems (left) and Paul Ifill lament the Phoenix's poor performance against the Central Coast Mariners.

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Just five weeks ago they were being hailed as the best Wellington Phoenix squad ever assembled.

But now they find themselves in an early season pickle, having slumped to their third straight A-League defeat, at Westpac Stadium.

The Phoenix didn't play terribly in the 1-0 loss to the in-form Central Coast Mariners.

But, despite plenty of endeavour, nor did they manage to unduly trouble the well drilled visitors, whose 68th minute winner came via the suddenly red-hot journeyman Daniel McBreen.

Rising star Tom Rogic had freed himself of Andrew Durante's attentions on the left and spotted the run of McBreen, who was then able to finish past Mark Paston.

The loss means the Phoenix are languishing in ninth place after six rounds, with the opening-round win over Sydney FC their only triumph.

And there will be no easy path back into the winner's circle either.

The Phoenix's next two games are away to high-flying Newcastle and Perth, with their build-up to the Jets game disrupted by All Whites commitments this week.

Coach Ricki Herbert and six players will fly to Shanghai for Thursday's friendly against China, before travelling to Newcastle via Sydney for Sunday's game.

It will be interesting to see if Herbert deems a shake-up in personnel is required.

Ben Sigmund put in a strong shift in his return from suspension today but otherwise the side was unchanged from the poor 3-2 loss in Melbourne.

The Phoenix were much hungrier across the park and snapped at the opposition's heels but they had no real inspiration in attack.

Stein Huysegems had the Phoenix's best sight on goal in the first half, but fired well over the bar, while Paul Ifill and Louis Fenton had moments but rarely threatened the well organised visitors.

Central Coast have now won their last six games against the Phoenix, including four in Wellington.

Herbert made some strange moves in search of an equaliser, shifting Leo Bertos to left back and Manny Muscat to the right side of defence as Benji Totori and Tyler Boyd provided the fresh legs to no avail.

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