Lucky 13 has Phoenix upbeat over ALM start

The No.13 might be unlucky for some but as far as Wellington Phoenix are concerned it’s a positive omen.

A 2-1 victory over the Central Coast Mariners in Wollongong on Saturday made it 13 A-League Men’s games without loss stretching back to April.

Second-half goals from Gary Hooper and Jaushua Sotirio cancelled out Marco Urena’s strike to give the Phoenix their first win of the season at their home away from home.

With four points from two games it’s Wellington’s best start in three campaigns under Ufuk Talay but the head coach is striving for more.

“I’m not really big into stats but it’s nice to go 13 unbeaten,” he said.

“I’d like to go 13 unbeaten with three points every single game, but that hasn’t happened.

“It was most important that we pick up points early within the season, which we haven’t done previously in our last two seasons.

“It puts us in a good position to build confidence and continue with this group.”

The most significant moment of the match, however, wasn’t either of the Phoenix’s two goals but rather one they should have had.

In the 85th minute and leading with Hooper off the field, the Phoenix were handed a penalty that would have put the game beyond doubt.

Ben Waine and Reno Piscopo were engaged in a heated debate about who should take it, the former won out but was unable to convert past Mark Birighitti.

Talay said he wasn’t concerned but reminded Waine that next time he was afforded the opportunity to take a penalty there was no room for error.

For Wellington’s goalkeeper and vice-captain Oli Sail it showed there was a desire within the Phoenix squad to make the result count when it mattered most.

“You guys love it, but honestly, I love it,” Sail said on Sunday.

“In my head that’s two boys who are extremely confident and want to score goals, so I love that.

“Ideally it ends with the ball in the back of the net, but that happens, people miss penalties, it was a decent save.

“It wasn’t Waino’s best strike, but that happens and that shows that we’ve got two boys who have the nuts to put their hand up and bury it.

“It didn’t turn out that way but for me it is a positive sign.”

The win over the Mariners wasn’t without concern for the Phoenix, who play Western Sydney Wanderers on Friday, with Callan Elliot (shoulder) and Sotirio (ankle) picking up injuries.

Elliot, who was in a sling on Sunday, has been cleared of any serious injury after having scans on Saturday.