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Steady as she goes for rising Phoenix


It was business as usual for Wellington Phoenix co-coach Des Buckingham after last night’s 3-0 A-League upset of Melbourne Victory at Westpac Stadium.

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The Phoenix’s fifth win of the season in the rescheduled match was set up by Roly Bonevacia’s 33rd-minute strike, and capped off by late goals from Jacob Tratt and Kosta Barbarouses.

It moved fifth-placed Wellington into the top six for the first time this season, and gave them their fourth clean sheet in seven games.

While quietly satisfied with the result, Buckingham says no-one at the Phoenix is getting too carried away with it.

“We know the points we require,” he said.

“We set our target at the start of the season, and we’re nowhere near it.

“We still need 25 points from the remaining games to get to fourth and stay in fourth for the play-offs.”

Buckingham and co-coach Chris Greenacre have had only one loss in seven games at the helm for the Phoenix since taking over after Ernie Merrick resigned early last month.

Wellington have created more chances on goal than any other team in the league and produced the most shots on target, Buckingham says.

Converting those chances is still a work in progress, but in the meantime the 31-year-old Englishman is happy with the way the team is improving.

Holding midfielders Alex Rodriguez and Vince Lia are working well with a steady back four anchored by Italian Marco Rossi and skipper Andrew Durante in the middle.

“We’re starting to get some consistency – it’s only the fourth time this season we’ve been able to put that back four out,” Buckingham said.

He’s hoping that consistency will earn Wellington their third win from as many games in eight days when they host Brisbane Roar on Saturday.

Brisbane sit one place and three points ahead of the Phoenix and are coming off a 3-2 defeat at Victory’s feet last week.

“Brisbane had a really good start to the season. They’ve stuttered in the last couple of weeks, but there’s threats all over the pitch,” Buckingham said.

“But we’ll continue to focus on our game – we need to back up with a defensive display like we’ve shown tonight.”


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