Sigmund’s never Ben better

Ben Sigmund described his match-winning effort as a career highlight after heading Wellington Phoenix to a 2-1 win over 10-man Adelaide United.

Ben Sigmund described his match-winning effort as a career highlight after heading Wellington Phoenix to a 2-1 win over 10-man Adelaide United.

In a match full of controversy that saw Reds skipper Travis Dodd sent off and Phoenix coach Ricki Herbert sent from the sidelines by referee Peter O-Leary, Sigmund nodded home a Marco Rojas cross deep into stoppage time to claim a much-needed three points for the Wellington side.

It was all the more special for Sigmund as the match, played in front of a season-high crowd for the Phoenix of 14, 108, took place in his home town of Christchurch.

“It was certainly a career highlight for me. I felt we just kept pushing and pushing in that game and I felt like something was going to come,” the delighted defender said.

“I just kept saying to Marco ‘just get it near post, just get it near post’ and finally he got one in and it was the perfect ball.”

Adelaide were 1-0 up at half-time after a 14th minute Sergio van Dijk header went in off the post.

But inside a minute of the second half, the Phoenix were on level terms after Sigmund-s cross from the right found Tim Brown, who poked home the equaliser.

Sigmund, playing in the less familiar role of right-back, had probably his best performance of the season as he got forward with the ball and chased back when required as Wellington dominated the second half.

“It’s hard to go from centre-back to right-back but I got given a job and I just want to try and get forward as much as I can and get good balls in and I felt against Sydney I did all the right things I just didn-t get that final ball in,” Sigmund explained.

“That’s exactly what I needed today a good cross in to (set-up) the first one and to score the winner. You couldn-t write a better script really.”

Herbert had nothing but praise for his big defender. “He wears his heart on the sleeve and when you’ve got a group of players together that are really united and doing well Ben is at the forefront of it,” Herbert said. “I wouldn’t say he’s playing in his favoured position but we had a really good chat yesterday and he just understands the need for the team and he is growing in that role. He wants to get better at it which is just a true sign of the person he is.”

Herbert was in the tunnel when the winner came. “It was great. I just ran outside and celebrated. I thought it was fantastic and totally justified.

“On another day we probably could have got three or four. That’s us. We were like that at the back end of last season. I’m delighted.”

Herbert was ordered off for protesting about the positioning of goalkeeper Eugene Galekovic-s free-kick.

“I challenged why we were sent back two yards when Eugene Galekovic put the ball outside of the box when the incident took place inside the six yard box,” the Phoenix coach said.

“If I’ve taken one on the chin for the team then I’d rather sit in the box against Gold Coast next week than lose a player. But maybe I’ve been punished for the inconsistency of the refereeing.”

He had little to say on Dodd’s red card. “Decisions like that are always difficult. To be honest I didn-t see it so I think it’s hard to comment on it.”

The win – just their second ever against Adelaide – lifted the Phoenix to fifth after Melbourne Heart were beaten 3-0 by Gold Coast, Wellington’s next opponents.

Herbert felt it was important to continue the momentum gleaned from taking seven points from their last four matches.

“That’s two (wins) from four now and a draw in the mix. That’s a recipe to kind of get you into the finals so it-s good form for us, he added. “But we’ve got to keep pressing on.”