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A-League Report Card: Wellington Phoenix 10/05/2016

© Provided by There was no repeat finals appearance for Wellington Phoenix in what was challenging season both on and off the field.

Position: 9th

Record: Played 27, Won 7, Drawn 4, Lost 16

Goals scored: 34

Goals conceded: 54

Leading goal-scorer: Blake Powell (8)

Best home crowd: 13,654 – Round 6 against Adelaide United

Star performer: Roly Bonevacia

In a tough season for the Nix, Bonevacia provided some memorable moments and was easily the side's most dangerous and influential player.

When he's 'on' there are not many better midfielders in the competition than the Dutchman.

Bonevacia scored six goals – including a couple of stunners - and had four assists from his 26 appearances.

Breakout player: Dylan Fox

After Merrick snapped up the young defender from NSW NPL club Bonnyrigg White Eagles, Fox settled seamlessly into life in the A-League.

The 22-year-old got a chance due to an injury to Ben Sigmund and he made it count with a series of mature and assured performances in the heart of Wellington's defence.

Goal of the year: Roly Bonevacia

Bonevacia's long-range strike in the Round 6 win over Adelaide United was a howitzer! All power and accuracy as it flew into the top corner from almost 30 yards out.

The Dutchman had a similar effort in the loss to Melbourne City in January, which was almost as good.

Highlight: Wonderful day at Wanderland

A landmark day for Blake Powell – in which he scored four goals – saw the Phoenix stun the high-flying Wanderers at Pirtek Stadium in February.

Powell scored a first-half hat-trick with some exceptional finishes as Wellington blew the Wanderers away 5-2.

Lowlight: Home woes

Normally so hard to beat in Wellington, Phoenix struggled in front of their home fans this season.

They won just four of 13 games in New Zealand, and lost their last four on the trot at Westpac Stadium.

A serious injury to Fijian striker Roy Krishna was also a blow. Krishna scored six goals in the first part of the season before a foot injury ruled him out for three months.

What they need:

If Wellington is to get back into the finals next season, Merrick really needs to strengthen at both ends of the pitch.

There are holes in defence with Manny Muscat leaving and Ben Sigmund's retirement, while a top-quality striker is also a must to help support Krishna and finish off the good work of the likes of Michael McGlinchey, Bonevacia – and now – Gui Finkler and Kosta Barbarouses.


Kosta Barbarouses, Gui Finkler


Manny Muscat, Ben Sigmund, Troy Danaskos, Kwabena Appiah

Chief Editor Michael Huguenin's View

Wellington is a much more positive place to be since Football Federation Australia (FFA) granted the Phoenix a 10-year extension to their A-League licence.

It's no coincidence that Merrick has since secured the signatures of Barbarouses and Finkler, and the ex-Melbourne Victory duo should make Wellington's attack more balanced in 2016-17.

It has been widely reported FFA expect the Phoenix to make more of a splash in terms of recruitment, so don't be surprised if the club's owners are lining up a marquee signing - although Wellington doesn't have an import spot available at the time of writing.

Issues remain at the back, however, with only Central Coast Mariners and Newcastle Jets having conceded more goals than the Phoenix over the past three seasons.

Muscat and Sigmund's departures mean there is room to move in defence but it appears Wellington's defensive problems are systemic rather than individualistic.

At their best, the Phoenix remain one of the more entertaining teams to watch in the A-League but Merrick will need to discover the secret to consistency ahead of next season.

More: 10 more years for Wellington Phoenix | A-League Review: Wanderers clinch second, Sydney smash Perth Glory | Finkler's Phoenix move confirmed | Barbarouses to quit Victory for Phoenix | Ben Khalfallah: I can replace Finkler as Victory's number 10

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