Wellington Phoenix get first victory of the year

Last updated 21:23 22/12/2013
Stein Huysegems
Getty Images
RELIEF: Stein Huysegems' 33rd minute winner was a welcome tonic following a string of missed opportunities.

Related Links

Latino star Cunningham awaits Phoenix rebirth Wellington Phoenix still winless, Hernandez upset Phoenix gift-wrap another defeat Stats aside, Wellington Phoenix fail to deliver

Relevant offers


Former England defender Gary Neville earns first win as manager of Valencia Leeds not prepared to risk injured All Whites striker Chris Wood Futsal Whites miss out on world cup as Solomon Islands top Oceania once again Gloom returns for Man United, West Ham deny Norwich vital Premier League win David de Gea own goal hands Sunderland vital win over Manchester United Melbourne Victory, Melbourne City combine for 2-2 A-League classic Vedran Janjetovic howler costs Sky Blues as red hot Perth Glory snatch points Phoenix defeat Southern United to move out of ASB Premiership wooden spoon danger Fifa ethics committee bans former secretary general Jerome Valcke for 12 years Brisbane Roar salvage 2-2 A-League draw against Newcastle Jets

The Wellington Phoenix's first win of the A-League season has been marred by what appears to be a serious Achilles injury to club talisman Paul Ifill.

The 1-0 defeat of Sydney FC at Westpac Stadium tonight snapped a club record 11 game winless streak but the relief was tempered with sadness as Ifill was stretchered off the field early in the second half.

The 34-year-old attempted to turn then sprint while on attack and despite no contact went down as if he'd been shot, in agony as he slammed his hand on the turf.

It was a horrible sight and the crowd of 6813 gave the club's record goalscorer a touching send-off as he was carried into the tunnel.

Ifill - who has scored 33 goals since signing in 2009 - is probably the greatest player in the Phoenix's short history and the affable Englishman has been a wonderful ambassador for the club.

But he was already injury prone before this latest setback and comes off contract at the end of the season.

It understandably took the wind out of the Phoenix's sails for a spell and they should be proud that they were able to refocus and complete the job for an overdue win.

It was coach Ernie Merrick's first win at the Phoenix and he also deserves credit for remaining calm and positive throughout the tortuous run of cock-ups and near misses, reasoning that the law of averages would eventually apply.

Stein Huysegems - who had scored just twice this season and had been guilty of botching some gilt-edged chances - scored the winner in the 33rd minute.

The former Belgium international ran onto a gorgeous, threaded Carlos Hernandez through ball, rounded goalkeeper Vedran Janjetovic and hit the target with his preferred left boot from an acute angle.

Huysegems was euphoric and as he sprinted towards the Phoenix dugout it appeared he was going to capture Merrick in a bear hug before instead embracing his team-mates.

It had looked like more of the same as both teams wasted some great goalscoring opportunities in the first half.

Sydney - perhaps arrogantly - decided to rest both marquees Alessandro Del Piero and Brett Emerton and the Sky Blues just aren't the same threat without their superstar Italian.

The Phoenix weren't overly troubled in the second half and the home fans were able to whip their shirts off after 80 minutes for the first time this season.

Ad Feedback

Ifill's injury means Merrick will have to step up his search for a striker or attacking midfielder with in-form All White Aaron Clapham - who scored another brace for Canterbury United yesterday - a possibility.

It was heartening to see Hernandez - who is unhappy that his family is yet to join him in Wellington - return from a quad injury and get through most of the match.

He worked hard and provided the key pass to unlock the Sydney defence.

A happy Hernandez will be vital if the Ifill injury is as bad as it seemed.

The ninth-placed Phoenix will like their chances of now starting a winning streak, with an away trip to last-placed Melbourne Heart next up on December 27.


Wellington Phoenix 1 (Stein Huysegems) Sydney FC 0 HT: 1-0

- Fairfax Media


Special offers
Opinion poll

Will Burnley retain their EPL status?

Yes, they've found a winning formula

Maybe, but there’s a long way to go

No. They lack quality in certain areas

Vote Result

Featured Promotions

Sponsored Content