'Bizarre goal' takes wind out of Wanderers

ON THE BALL: Phoenix striker Stein Huysegems attempts to get the ball under control during the 1-0 home victory over Western Sydney Wanderers.
ON THE BALL: Phoenix striker Stein Huysegems attempts to get the ball under control during the 1-0 home victory over Western Sydney Wanderers.

A sheepish Jeremy Brockie and a fuming Tony Popovic provided some colourful reaction following a dull A-League match at Westpac Stadium yesterday.

The Phoenix won 1-0 thanks to Brockie's accidental goal while Western Sydney Wanderers coach Popovic was struggling to comprehend why his side wasn't awarded a penalty in each half.

With six goals from his past five games, Brockie is now second on the golden boot chart behind only Daniel McBreen.

Yesterday, Brockie swung in a hopeful cross which caught a wicked gust of wind to befuddle Ante Covic in the 22nd minute.

One of the best keepers in the league, the 37-year-old lost his footing and could only watch on in horror as the ball hit the back of the net unimpeded.

Brockie scores some cracking goals but this wasn't one of them.

"Everything I'm connecting with at the moment seems to hit the back of the net, and I'm the first to put my hand up and acknowledge that it was meant to be a cross for [Paul Ifill] far post," Brockie said.

"The Wellington wind helped me out. I was a little bit embarrassed to celebrate but it hit the back of the net, so I'm not going to complain.

"It sort of moved quite late and that was probably one of the reasons it wrong-footed the keeper."

It was Brockie's first home goal in Phoenix colours but some of his nearest and dearest were not among a season-low crowd of 5405.

"Dad was in Greymouth for a 50th and even my wife stayed at home tonight," Brockie said.

On the balance of play, the Phoenix deserved all three points but the Wanderers did have two good penalty shouts turned down by referee Matt Gillett.

Early on, Andrew Durante thrust his arm out in the box to block a Jerome Polenz cross while Ben Sigmund got away with placing his hands on Joey Gibbs.

"You don't want to bring up the officiating but how we don't get a penalty today is really beyond me," Popovic said.

"It's hard to accept, to be honest, it's hard to take when you see those kind of things. It's a tough place to come, every team finds that out and they showed why they've been so consistent in making the playoffs the last three consecutive years.

"Take nothing away from them but we conceded a bizarre goal."

With a third of the season played, the Phoenix are now fifth of 10 teams with a three-win, three-draw and three-loss record.

Next up is another home game against strugglers Sydney FC on Sunday and the Phoenix owners will be banking on some overdue sun and Alessandro Del Piero to drag a few more through the gate.

On this evidence, the Phoenix will be hard to beat playing their 4-3-3 system but it is also hard to see them troubling the likes of Central Coast or Melbourne Victory. Phoenix coach Ricki Herbert was happy with his side's overall performance - if not the finishing - and said Spanish midfielder Dani Sanchez was close to returning from his long-term knee injury.

The Dominion Post