Gold Coast reign in the rain

Gold Coast United eased to a comfortable 2-0 win over the Wellington Phoenix on a rainy Saturday night at Skilled Park.

Gold Coast United eased to a comfortable 2-0 win over the Wellington Phoenix on a rainy Saturday night at Skilled Park.

Dutchman Bas van den Brink struck again for his third goal in three weeks, with a poacher’s effort from James Brown the exclamation mark on another well-structured and professional performance from Miron Bleiberg’s men, who welcomed back regular starters Glen Moss, Michael Thwaite, Zenon Caravella and Steve Pantelidis.

Rain tumbled down for the entire match – now seemingly a fixture of any Gold Coast home game – and while the visiting Kiwis had their chances they were all soaked up by a resolute United back four.

The hosts dominated possession in the opening 15 minutes, but struggled to find any real openings and it was the Phoenix who had the most dangerous foray forward during that period, with Daniel crossing in from the left to find Chris Greenacre – but the English striker couldn’t get his head on to what could have been a certain goal.

United’s Dino Djulbic had the perfect opportunity to put his side ahead in the 16th minute from a free header when his skipper Jason Culina found him with a corner kick, but the stopper couldn’t get any real purchase on the cross, spurning his chance from the edge of the six-yard box.

Four minutes later Gold Coast were forced into making an early substitution with Robson sustaining a knee injury and he was replaced by midfield workhorse Caravella, who was sent straight into the thick of the action.

Just moments after the switch, United opened the scoring through van den Brink, who beat Andrew Durante to another Culina corner kick and bounced in his goal on to the right post and into the back of the net.

But for the rest of the half Wellington had the better opportunities – Paul Ifill ran forward in the 27th minute after the Kiwis picked the pocket of the Gold Coast midfield, and the marquee man broke for his shot from the right, but it was just inches high of the goal.

A minute later Maltese international Manny Muscat had a shot on the left from the same distance, but it was saved by Moss.

In the shadows of half-time the Phoenix had to make an early change of their own, when gloveman Mark Paston took a Bruce Djite boot to the knee and looked distraught as he was stretchered off to make way for Danny Vukovic, but the former Olyroo wasn’t tested as a scrappy first half came to a close.

Chances were scarce in the opening stages of the second stanza, with the earliest falling to Culina from a free kick at the very edge of the penalty box in the 54th minute, but his low drive was collected with ease by Vukovic.

But after 66 minutes Gold Coast had their second goal through James Brown, who was back to haunt the Phoenix after scoring in their last fixture at Skilled Park in October.

In a goalmouth scramble, van den Brink sent a stray ball back into the box and into the path of Kristian Rees, whose shot was parried away by Vukovic but straight to Brown, who tucked away his chance with glee from close range.

The Phoenix needed a win to jump back into the top six after Victory won the Melbourne derby earlier in the evening, but it wasn’t to be as the two sides traded chances for the rest of the match.

United’s three points consolidated third position for them ahead of a midweek trip to Newcastle and the visit of the Central Coast Mariners next Sunday – with a big crowd expected for the ‘free admission’ extravaganza thrown by Clive Palmer.

Gold Coast United 2 (van den Brink 22′, Brown 67-)
Wellington Phoenix 0
Crowd: 1716 at Skilled Park, Robina