Phoenix cruise by Roar in 3-0 ALM rout

Ben McKay |

Wellington Phoenix are surging up the A-League Men table, their latest success a sharp 3-0 victory over Brisbane Roar on Wednesday.

Earlier this month the Nix were bottom of the A-League, struggling for cohesion on their third COVID-hit season played away from home.

But after a professional effort at Leichhardt Oval, Ufuk Talay’s men are back inside the top six.

Ex-Manchester United defender Scott Wootton got Wellington moving with his first goal for the club before creative midfielders Gael Sandoval and Reno Piscopo found the net to continue their fine run.

“It was a very good performance … a dominant display with and without the ball tonight and we scored some really good goals,” Talay said.

The Nix have claimed 10 points in 10 days as they catch up from a long COVID-enforced break, showing Talay has used the break wisely.

In Sydney, Talay named an unchanged side for the third straight game, with both teams enjoying strong chances in the opening half hour.

Clayton Lewis, who put in a fine shift, sent a rocket just inches wide from distance and soon after the All Whites midfielder struck a sharp free-kick onto the post as Roar gloveman Macklin Freke watched helplessly.

At the other end, Oliver Sail pulled off a diving one-handed save to deny Henry Hore’s piledriver from outside the box.

Set-piece specialist Lewis created the opener with a curling corner for Wootton to head home.

None of the Brisbane defence tracked the towering defender as he followed the flight of the cross, least of all the error-strewn Kai Trewin.

The Roar had one last gasp before Wellington took over with Hore  their best on the night, hitting the post after a fine run.

A minute later Sandoval produced a strike of the finest quality, bending his effort past Freke to score his third A-League goal in five matches.

Using the most of their momentum, Piscopo capped a team effort on 68 minutes by firing past Freke at the near post.

All four of the Wellington’s starting attackers – Sandoval, the tireless David Ball, speedster Jaushua Sotirio and Piscopo – were involved in the move as the Nix found their groove.

With star striker Gary Hooper yet to be integrated back into the team, these are encouraging times for Wellington who are yet to win silverware in their 14-year history.

The Nix face Sydney FC on Saturday, ending their five-match fortnight slog

“After we play Sydney I’m gonna give the boys a couple of days off. I’m sure that we’re looking forward to that,” Talay said.

The result also confirms Brisbane as one of the league’s worst travellers, with one win from their last 10 away matches leaving them 10th.

Beaten coach Warren Moon said Hore was the Roar’s best, adding  attacker Nikola Mileusnic was unlikely to start their next match against Perth after sustaining a calf injury.

“They’re the best in the league from transitioning from defence into attack … we had a plan for that and ultimately weren’t good enough to execute that,” he said.

“We’re very disappointed.”