Star striker Roy Krishna has promised Wellington Phoenix fans an ‘exciting’ conclusion to the Hyundai A-League 2018/19 Season. If the 3-2 win against Melbourne City is anything to go by, Nix supporters will need to keep their pulses in check.
The news of inspirational coach Mark Rudan’s impending departure had zero effect on Wellington’s desire to clinch all three points at Westpac Stadium. In fact it may have galvanised the Kiwi club even further as they scrapped until deep into stoppage time to snatch a stunning 94th-minute victory.
With Phoenix and City going into the game level on 37 points, four behind fourth-placed Adelaide United, a draw would have left both sides with the faintest of hopes of landing a home match in the Hyundai A-League Finals Series.
Krishna’s dramatic late winner puts Wellington a point behind the Reds heading into the final round of what is fast becoming a magical season for the yellow and black faithful, who turned out in their numbers on Sunday night.
Speaking on behalf of a team who refuse to accept when they are beaten, Krishna is convinced Phoenix can bring finals football back to New Zealand and continue to thrill the 8,000 plus in attendance.
“That’s our 12th man and, for everyone who came out, like I said, keep supporting us,” Krishna pleaded, after celebrating scoring a treble against Melbourne City.
“A few things didn’t go our way but believe in us and we’re going to make this season a very exciting one.
“We’re disappointed that we conceded two goals but we just had to believe that we would get the three points and thank you to our fans that came up.”
On a historical evening in the New Zealand captain, Krishna re-wrote the Wellington Phoenix history books.
The Fijian flyer not only walked away with the match ball — his first Hyundai A-League hat-trick — but he set the club record for the most goals in a season, he became the first Phoenix player to score 50 Hyundai A-League goals and he fired himself to the top of the 2018/19 golden boot standings, netting his 18th goal in the most dramatic way possible.
The 31-year-old was quick to pay tribute to his teammates and reserved a special mention to coach Rudan, who helped reshape Krishna’s game after he drew blanks in Wellington’s back-to-back losses against Adelaide and Brisbane Roar.
“Mark [Rudan] told me in the last two games, I was a bit quiet,” Krishna revealed.
“This week was very positive and we worked really hard on getting in front of the defence, and that’s what I did.”
As Wellington only register a 40% share of possession, Krishna was only able to record 46 touches. Alex Rufer was the only Nix player who played 90 minutes and touched the ball fewer times.
Despite City dominating the ball. Krishna still managed to engineer six shooting opportunities, four of which were inside the box. Krishna proved that his ability to read the flow of play, his eye for goal and his explosive pace can flip a match on its head in an instant.
Wellington’s opener was an example of the type of counter-punch they have been stunning opponents with all season. It is this ability to produce devastating moments at lightning-quick speed which will worry every other team in the Hyundai A-League Finals Series.
And closing out the regular season with a trip to Premiers-elect Perth Glory, Krishna explained his team fears nobody.
“We’re going to enjoy [the win], [Perth] is a bit task and with the playoffs, we’re just going to fight until the end.
“Praise goes to the teammates, we dig deep and I can’t wait until next weekend.”