Krishna hits record for Wellington Phoenix

Daniel Gilhooly
Roy Krishna has become equal all-time leading goal-scorer for A-League club Wellington Phoenix

Roy Krishna's milestone feat almost went unnoticed as the Wellington Phoenix injected some positivity back into New Zealand soccer in their A-League opener.

Sunday's 2-1 win over the Newcastle Jets relegated the forgettable ninth-placed campaign last season to a dark recess of supporters' memories.

It also came in the wake of a grim clean out of NZ Football senior management following allegations of mismanagement and overseeing a toxic culture in the national women's team.

Playing with purpose under ambitious coach Mark Rudan, the Phoenix impressed an opening weekend crowd of 9174, the biggest in a year at Westpac Stadium.

Victory was capped by Krishna's late and contentious goal from the penalty spot, giving him 33 in total for the Phoenix and lifting the Fijian international level first on the club's all-time list with the club's former front man Paul Ifill.

Rudan said Krishna hadn't mentioned the mark, preferring to put team goals ahead of his own.

That was emphasised late in the game when tracked back 60m to shut down a Jets attack, earning a yellow card for his exhausted lunge.

"Roy's a very quiet guy but to see that fight in him to work for his teammates was fantastic," Rudan said.

"All those sort of things are what we're about.

"He's been here for a very long time but we want this year to be his best ever and he's certainly started off on the right note."

Rudan was equally pleased with the A-League debut of three Europeans , who have added considerable starch on defence.

Polish goalkeeper Filip Kurto conjured some telling saves, Spanish midfielder Mandi was a shield in the middle of the park while English veteran Steven Taylor was inspirational.

Rudan was reluctant to single out any of the newcomers for praise although he conceded former Newcastle United defender Taylor will play a key leadership role alongside captain Andrew Durante.

Exciting Australians Mitch Nichols and Nathan Burns were expected to start but instead settled for late bench cameos, while Polish midfielder Michal Kopczynski managed 90 minutes for the reserve team as he returned from a niggle.

"It doesn't matter if you're a foreign player or you're young or old, it's purely based on performance," Rudan aid.

"And I'll take the flack if I get it wrong.

"I'm ecstatic for the players. They've worked extremely hard all pre-season and understood what we're trying to do against the grand finalists from last year."

LEADING PHOENIX GOALSCORERS

33 - Paul Ifill (2009-14), Roy Krishna (2013-)

24 - Shane Smeltz (2007-09, 2016-17)

23 - Jeremy Brockie (2012-15), Tim Brown (2007-12)

19 - Chris Greennacre (2009-12)