30 Jan 2012

Phoenix climb to second to prove doubters wrong

8:06 am on 30 January 2012

The A-League football team that collected just one win from the first seven matches this season is fast becoming Central Coast's biggest premiership threat.

Wellington's resurgence gained momentum yesterday, with second spot on the ladder the reward for a fluent 3-1 home win over Melbourne Heart.

Paul Ifill opened the scoring after just 3 minutes, with the visitors replying just before halftime.

Chris Greenacre and Ifill then added to their tally early in the second half.

The Mariners still hold a 10-point buffer at the top of the A-League ladder and also have a game in hand after Friday night's clash with Gold Coast was postponed due to wet weather.

As such it's unlikely the Phoenix will bridge that gap before the finals start on the last weekend of March.

However, victory on the weekend was preceded by the side's first two away wins for the season.

It is the first time a New Zealand-based side has occupied second spot on the ladder - in either the A-League or the former National Soccer League.

The fashion in which Wellington achieved this is almost as remarkable.

After the opening seven rounds of the 2011/12 season, the Phoenix were devoid of confidence, depleted by injury, and didn't have the funds to do anything about it.

The return from injury of Paul Ifill, who netted the opening goal on the weekend, has helped but there were no stars parachuted in to solve the crisis.

Instead coach Ricki Herbert extracted every ounce of potential from a list many predicted to be at the foot of the table this season.

The Phoenix next face Adelaide United in Adelaide on Friday night.