Phoenix on the rise

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Cast your minds back to October 31st.

Besart Barisha reels away from his hat-trick goal, celebrating with Marco Rojas in what became a 6-1 drubbing of an undeniably poor Wellington Phoenix side.

Roy Krishna sends a consolation penalty into the net for his side’s first goal of the season, after some 360 minutes played.

It was Round 4 and the men in yellow were without a win, without a point, and registering their worst ever start to an A-League season.

It seems like a long time ago now.

11 games and two new managers later and the new look ‘Nix have registered 18 points in the league, climbing themselves off of the foot of the A-league table and into 5th position.

Truth be told, the Phoenix should be taken seriously by teams in up the top of the A-League ladder and if their position on the table doesn’t do it, last night’s 3-0 dismantling of Melbourne Victory should.

It was a terrific performance from the home side, displaying the pace, power and intelligence the side has been hinting at all season.

One could be forgiven for thinking stars Berisha and Rojas weren’t in the Victory 11.

The duo was kept largely quiet throughout the match by a resolute Phoenix defence that seems to have found their shape since the return of Tom Doyle.

While the back four appear to have found their shape, it should also not be understated how important Alex Rodriguez has been.

With a man of the match performance in the heart of midfield, the Spaniard’s qualities lie far beyond his passing ability and exquisite protection of the back four.

His quality calms the team in possession, allowing those in front of him to express their attacking qualities, none more so than Roly Bonavacia.

The Dutchman has been nothing short of exemplary in the last two matches.

Being deployed in an attacking midfield position and with license to roam he has begun to show the destructive presence that captivated ‘Nix fans when he first arrived on the scene.

With Des Buckingham saying his form was too good to drop for the returning Gui Finkler, it’s hard to imagine the Brazilian regaining his place in the side if Bonevacia’s form continues.

It’s nigh impossible to recall a time where the ‘Nix had the quality of Finkler or Michael McGlinchey to call on from the bench.

Along with Hamish Watson, these represent genuine attacking threats that could all find themselves in the 11 come any given matchday.

It’s a luxury that will be key to the ‘Nix finals push as the season continues.

If they continue to perform to the standards they are currently setting, however, they may have more than a top six place in sight.

 

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