Wellington Hold Off Sydney
A stunning long range volley by Tim Brown was the highlight of Wellington Phoenix's 2-1 victory against Sydney FC on Sunday afternoon.
Paul Ifill's seventh-minute opener gave the Phoenix the perfect start but it was Brown's 45-metre dipping volley in the 59th minute that sealed the much-needed win, which ended a five-match run without a victory for Phoenix.
Bruno Cazarine's scrambled effort in the 70th minute kept everyone interested for the final period at Westpac Stadium, but it was as close as the visitors got.
The Phoenix produced some of their best football of the season in the first half and deserved to be ahead at the break, although the margin should have been greater than Ifill's solitary goal.
The plan was clear from the start as they took the ball wide down the flanks and made a lot of ground, particularly down the left where Jamie Coyne had a frustrating time against Leo Bertos, Tony Lochhead and Ifill.
It was an attack down the left in just the fourth minute that produced Wellington's first chance but Lochhead's cross just skimmed over Nick Ward's head.
Sydney defender Scott Jamieson then headed directly into goalkeeper Liam Reddy as the visitors' nervous start continued.
The Phoenix didn't have to wait long for their goal though as Lochhead floated in a well-weighted long ball from the back.
Ifill, making his first start since aggravating a groin injury in round two, beat the offside trap and slotted it past a despairing Reddy.
Sydney continued to struggle to get a foothold in the game and Ifill had another solid chance to double Wellington's lead on 17 minutes. Manny Muscat then shot straight at Reddy before the Phoenix defender fired in a cross from the right that just skimmed over Chris Greenacre's head.
Nicky Carle, who was unable to stamp his presence on the game, had Sydney's only real chance of the half in the 28th minute, but sent the ball wide of Tony Warner's upright.
The Phoenix continued to press for their second goal in the final minutes of the first half but Ward could only blaze another shot over the bar, while Ifill sent a long-range strike just wide of the right post.
Ifill's radar continued to malfunction early in the second half too as he butchered a glorious chance in the 54th minute - when it was harder to miss than score from six yards out - after some good build-up work by Greenacre and Lochhead.
But the vital second goal finally came five minutes later and was an absolute stunner from Brown who robbed Carle close to the halfway line then fired a dipping volley over Reddy who was off his line.
Mirjan Pavlovic, making his first appearance of the season following a broken arm, was introduced on the hour mark for Ifill and was quickly into the action setting up a shot for Vince Lia who forced a good save from Reddy.
Sydney set up a tense final 20 minutes with a bizarre goal from substitute Cazarine, who miscued a right-footed volley but saw it bobble past Warner into the back of the net.
The visitors pressed for the equaliser right to the end but the Phoenix stood firm to claim the valuable three points.
Wellington Phoenix 2 (Ifill 7, Brown 59)
Sydney FC 1 (Cazarine 70)
Westpac Stadium, Wellington