Phoenix put two past Mariners

Goals for Leo Bertos and Paul Ifill made it a 21st to remember for the Wellington Phoenix as they maintained their unbeaten run at Westpac Stadium with a 2-0 A-League win over Central Coast Mariners.

Goals for Leo Bertos and Paul Ifill gave Wellington Phoenix ensured a perfect 21st for Wellington Phoenix as they maintained their unbeaten run at Westpac Stadium with a 2-0 A-League win over Central Coast Mariners.

The Phoenix have not lost at the venue – a run of 21 A-League games – since October 2008 and never really looked likely to on a sunny Sunday afternoon in the New Zealand capital.

The win also extended Wellington-s run of clean sheets against the Mariners to seven games and set them up nicely for their first away game of the season against Brisbane Roar next Friday night.

After last week-s end-to-end thriller against Gold Coast United, Phoenix coach Ricki Herbert admitted Sunday-s game had probably been one for the purists, much like previous clashes against the Mariners.

“I-m not sure we-ve had too many flash ones against them but we-ve had good results against them,” he said. “It was probably a good one to get second up for us.

“It-s a good place for us at home. We-ve been very solid here. We created chances again today and there was a quality goal from Paul at the end there and we started well and got on the score sheet early.”

It was a pretty flat opening 10 minutes before the game got a much-needed goal with Leo Bertos bagging his fifth for the Phoenix in 48 appearances.

Some good lead-up work from Manny Muscat and a nice one-two with Chris Greenacre in the box left the right back with a one on one with goalkeeper Jess Van Strattan but he slid the ball across to Bertos who had the simplest of tap-ins.

A couple of minutes later and Van Strattan was called into action again as Greenacre showed great poise to fire the ball in on the turn forcing a save from the Mariners keeper with Tim Brown lurking at the back post.

Mariners- goal scorer last week, Matt Simon, should have done better in one of his side-s rare first-half forays into the Phoenix box.

Bradley Porter delivered a great cross in from the right but the striker could only head it wide.

While the effort from the players on both sides could not be faulted, stray passes and some reasonable defending meant chances were at a premium for the remainder of the half.

A well-timed Andrew Durante tackle halted a determined run by Joshua Rose in what was probably Central Coast-s best period of play.

If anything the Phoenix would have been disappointed not to have extended their lead before the break as a nicely floated long ball in from Tony Lochhead saw Brown beat his man in the air but glance the ball wide then Dylan Macallister couldn-t get on the end of a Paul Ifill cross in to the penalty area.

One of the biggest cheers in the second half came when new recruit Oscar Roberto “Toto” Cornejo was introduced for Bertos in the 58th minute for his much-awaited debut for the Phoenix.

The partisan crowd of 9,553 had something even better to cheer about three minutes later when Ifill, playing his 400th senior game, collected a lofted ball into the box by Brown and rifled home a powerful left footed shot into the right hand corner of Van Strattan-s net.

The hard-working Oliver Bozanic forced a great save from Mark Paston in the 79th minute then made another good run along the byline to set up Nik Mrdja for a strike but he fired the ball straight at John Hutchinson who was stood in front of Paston and the Phoenix managed to scramble the ball clear.

It was the closest either side came to a goal in the closing stages and the Mariners were forced to leave Wellington empty-handed again.

Central Coast coach Graham Arnold was disappointed with the quality of ball delivered into the box with Mark Paston only forced to make two saves all game.

“It was not only the lack of finishing but the lack of good service,” he said. “Our crossing was poor today. There was only one time we got a good cross in and Matty Simon got on the end of it and nearly scored.

“But Wellington are a very good side. They don-t have a home record like they-ve got for no reason.

“Overall in the first half, except for one lapse of concentration when they scored, I thought we did well. In the second they caught us on the break. So overall it-s two incidents that won them the game.”