Wellington Phoenix striker Blake Powell basking in A-League glory again
Wellington coach Ernie Merrick has put Blake Powell's goal mayhem down to the increased confidence that comes with regular game time.
Powell's four goals steered the Phoenix to a 5-2 win over A-League title favourites Western Sydney Wanderers on Sunday.
The 24-year-old's performance at Pirtek Stadium included a scarcely believable first half hat trick that left Tony Popovic's shell-shocked squad trailing 3-0.
All three goals featured superb finishes from quality assists, with Powell producing a spectacular diving header and even a volley from his unfavoured left foot that gave Wanderers goalkeeper Andrew Redmayne no chance.
Merrick believed the former Sydney FC player, who spent last season in the NPL, was relishing the extra football.
"He's getting more and more confidence because he's getting more and more game time," he said.
"He was previously at Sydney FC, and when you're at a big club it's very hard to give inexperienced and younger players a run.
"But when you give them an extended run you sometimes get a real surprise.
"He's certainly improving every week he plays, and at training he's very dedicated and does a lot of work with goal-scoring in extra sessions with [assistant coach] Chris Greenacre.
"It was just great to see him do so well.
"I think his family was here as well, so we're going to fly his family around the country from now on."
The ninth-placed Phoenix's stunning upset put an end to nine winless matches, but Merrick wasn't getting carried away.
That said, he was pleased with the manner in which his side got on top of the Wanderers' high-playing attack.
"We knew at home Wanderers would come at us, and we like an open game," Merrick said.
"We know they take some risks because both full-backs go [forward] at the same time, so we had two strikers just wide of their centre-backs who were going to cash in on that on the rebound if we won the ball.
"And that's exactly what happened. But more than the Wanderers not playing well, it was just one of those nights where we couldn't do anything wrong.
"It's been a long time coming."