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Phoenix thrilled with Brisbane upset

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 25/02/2017

A return to the Wellington Phoenix starting team just got harder for their three suspended players following the rousing 2-1 upset of the Brisbane Roar.

The New Zealand club ended a torrid week in spectacular style, snapping a five-game winless streak against top-six opponents who were unbeaten in the last month.

More remarkably, it came a day after the Phoenix announced midfielder Roly Bonevacia and defenders Tom Doyle and Ryan Lowry had been suspended for an undisclosed breach of team protocol.

The ban raised questions over the authority of rookie coaches Buckingham and Chris Greenacre.

Buckingham says the players' response in Brisbane spoke volumes, with goals midway through each half to forwards Shane Smeltz and Roy Krishna giving them a two-goal advantage before Brandon Borello's 75th-minute strike set up a tense finish.

"I got asked a ridiculous question yesterday around 'had I lost the changing room'," Buckingham said.

"I'm extremely proud of the effort and application of the players in what is a very difficult place to come, with the heat considered and the travel and after what has been quite a difficult week.

"I'm very pleased for every single player and the football club."

Buckingham was hugely impressed by Adam Parkhouse, who shone early in the season in a makeshift left back role and did so again in place of All White Doyle.

He was also delighted by the performance of 20-year-old Matthew Ridenton in a central midfield expected to struggle without Dutch playmaker Bonevacia.

Buckingham suggested regular starters Doyle and Bonevacia are no certainties to return for Saturday's home game against Perth Glory.

Lowry may have also moved down central defence pecking order behind Dylan Fox, who made a fine fist of replacing injured Marco Rossi early in the game.

The Phoenix improved one place to seventh although they could be passed by the winners of Sunday's clash between two teams just below them, Newcastle and Central Coast.

Either way, they are back within two points of the top six following Western Sydney's loss to Perth.

Just as importantly, the players have refreshed their attitude, Buckingham said, after a miserable period capped by last week's 5-1 home loss to Melbourne City.

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