They were without two of their key attacking weapons, but someone forgot to tell Wellington Phoenix they were no chance against Western Sydney Wanderers on New Year’s Day.
They were without two of their key attacking weapons, lost another player to injury early on and were playing their fourth game in 13 days – but someone forgot to tell Wellington Phoenix they were no chance against high-flyers Western Sydney Wanderers on New Year’s Day.
In one of the shocks of the A-League season so far, the Phoenix continued their mid-season revival after a come-from-behind 3-1 win over the Wanderers at Pirtek Stadium.
Already without Paul Ifill (Achilles) and Carlos Hernandez (wrist) through injury, defender Louis Fenton was forced off before half-time with a shoulder problem.
But instead of throwing in the towel after going behind, the Phoenix’s mixture of impressive youngsters and experienced stars inspired them to one of the club’s best-ever victories.
“The boys are telling me they can’t re-call going behind away from home and coming back and winning,” a beaming Ernie Merrick said.
“That’s to do with the mental approach they’ve got now.
“We’ve been working on that since day one of preseason.
“They set their own goals and targets and they are a great bunch to coach as they are very keen to learn and they’re not going to give up easily.”
After going behind to Mark Bridge’s opener on 62 minutes, teenager Tyler Boyd came off the bench early in the second half to get the comeback started with his first A-League goal.
Belgian striker Stein Huysegems then scored two superb goals – his fourth in the last three games – to ensure the result and make it three straight wins for the Phoenix.
“We’ve been playing good football (all season) and even going a goal down we felt we were right in the game and we showed we can score goals when we need to,” Merrick said.
“I felt this turnaround coming. The boys have never lost faith.
“The law of averages says it has to come good.”
Merrick said Fenton’s shoulder injury “doesn’t look good” while Hernandez will meet with a surgeon on Thursday to sort out the best option for his broken wrist.
The Phoenix boss also admitted he was hoping to strengthen his attacking options by bringing in a new striker now the January transfer window is open.