In the absence of their suspended star Roy Krishna, the Wellington Phoenix rung crucial changes for their 1-0 win over the Central Coast Mariners in Wellington last night.

With a line up consisting of the newly signed Shane Smeltz, Alex Rodriguez and the returning Michael McGlinchey, the side put on a performance that will have many fans hopeful of a finals push.

Incisive and methodical, each foray into the Mariners’ half looked threatening in the first half and in truth there should have been more goals had it not been for sloppy finishing.

McGlinchey was the star of the show, returning from a two-month injury lay off, he needed little time to impose himself on the game, turning inside Storm Roux and Beating Paul Izzo at his near post inside the first 10 minutes.

In fact, he had the beating of Roux on multiple occasions in the first half.

When he found space beyond him and delicately played the ball to Roly Bonavacia on the stroke of half time and a second looked all but certain.

The midfielder missed the chance to grab his first of the season and the Mariners were lucky to go into the break just one down.

It was a terrific first half by the men in yellow, punctuated with crisp and purposeful passing, aided by the calming influence of the Spaniard Alex Rodriguez in the starting line-up.

Smeltz was the beneficiary as he continued to look the part on his return to the capital.

Though he will be disappointed not to find the net, he provides a strong presence up front coupled with a clever range of passing that simply can’t be matched by Hamish Watson.As he continues to build up stamina, it looks as though he will play a crucial part in the coming weeks.

Another benefactor of the changes was undoubtedly Roly Bonevacia. Deployed in a more advanced position,the midfielder registered his best performance of the season.

The midfielder possesses an abundance of raw power and being pushed forward allowed him to truly exploit this for the first this season.

It was an important win at the beginning of a potentially season defining week for Phoenix.

With the imminent return of Krishna, it appears that the ‘Nix suddenly have more options they have had in previous rounds.

The likes of Gui Finkler and Hamish Watson represent fantastic options from the bench and when the Fijian does rejoin the fold, it will be difficult to drop anyone from the side.

SHARE