31 Mar 2019

Phoenix too good for Jets

5:10 am on 31 March 2019

Wellington Phoenix have continued their barnstorming finish to the A-League football season, dispatching Newcastle 4-1 on the back of superb David Williams hat- trick.

David Williams of the Phoenix celebrates his goal with team mate Alex Rufer.


Chasing their first finals appearance in four years and sitting fourth on the ladder, Wellington have set their sights on overhauling either Sydney FC or Melbourne Victory to qualify third, and needed a win at Westpac Stadium to stay close.

The margin of the win, built on an outstanding second half, left coach Mark Rudan cautiously satisfied.

"Obviously I think there were areas where we could have been better," he said.

"Overall, particularly in the second half, we decided to play a bit more on the counterattack knowing we had that one-goal lead and they had to come at us and take some risks.

"You do your homework, you find spaces in area, and I thought we were really good with our first pass.

"That was always important on the counter, and we just absolutely ripped them to shreds in the second half."

The Phoenix unleashed 20 shots on goal, eight of which were on target, while the Jets managed 16 with just the one on target.

Missing golden boot frontrunner Roy Krishna due to a week's suspension, Wellington needed Williams to step up and he was quick to oblige, combining smoothly with Sarpreet Singh to slip in behind the Jets defence after barely 30 seconds.

Williams' clinical right-foot strike - his ninth goal of the season - left former Phoenix keeper Glen Moss no chance, and Wellington seized the early initiative.

The 31-year-old striker was far from finished, although Wellington could only take a 1-0 lead into halftime.

Williams added a 60th minute penalty - negated two minutes later by Roy O'Donovan's close-range finish - then produced a sweetly struck curling effort in the 65th minute to complete his hat-trick.

Sarpreet Singh made it 4-1 in the 73rd minute, set up by a lovely run from Liberato Cacace, and Wellington were able to cruise home.

They are away to Adelaide United next week, and are eyeing the play-offs with added confidence, having scored 15 goals in their last three games.

Last year's beaten finalists, the Jets' hopes of making the top-six have all but faded away, as they remain mired in seventh place, five points shy of sixth- placed Adelaide United.

Coach Ernie Merrick said while the his side haven't been able to score with any consistency all season, it was their defence which let them down on Saturday.

"Our defence was very poor. Very poor," he said.

"To concede a goal one minute into the game away from home means it's going to be very tough."

Despite their poor start, Newcastle were able to control the midfield for much of the first spell, but didn't have much to show for it.

"It was pretty hard to get through the Phoenix defence - it was really well organised," Merrick added.