Phoenix boss upbeat despite loss to Wanderers

Wellington Phoenix boss Des Buckingham is refusing to panic despite his side’s disappointing loss at home to Western Sydney Wanderers on Saturday night.

With a spot in the Hyundai A-League top six the prize for the winner, Phoenix was made to pay for a slow start as they were eventually beaten 3-1 at Yarrow Stadium in New Plymouth.

Santalab brace fires Wanderers past 10-man Phoenix

As a result, Phoenix has dropped to eighth spot on the ladder and with plenty of work to do to make the finals as we head into the last third of the season.

“I think it’s important we don’t get carried away. It’s a 3-1 loss,” a philosophical Buckingham said.

“We never got carried away after the 3-0 win over the Melbourne Victory [a couple of weeks ago].

“We’ve had a steady run…it’s been baby steps since [Chris and I] took over. 

“Tonight’s a hurdle. We need to make sure we pick up points from the last nine games.”

Buckingham felt the final score didn’t tell the full story of the match, with Phoenix not as clinical in front of goal as the Wanderers when they created opportunities.

Striker Shane Smeltz did score his first goal since his return to the club, only for the Kiwi international to spoil his night after getting sent off 15 minutes from the end for a second bookable offence.

“I thought the yellow cards were very harsh, I thought there was a standard set in the first five minutes where’s he’s booked Andrew Durante for a header,” the Phoenix boss said.

“We’ve had a player sent off and we’ve had four yellow cards, and we’ve committed fifteen fouls…in a game that watching from the sidelines, wasn’t that kind of game.”

Buckingham added: “We had good spells in the game where we controlled a lot of the possession but we never looked really effective with it.

“Western Sydney scored with their first attack of the game and went 1-0 up.”

Phoenix will hope to reignite their finals hopes next week when they travel to Sydney to play the unbeaten Sky Blues on Thursday night.