Wellington Phoenix have crashed back to earth hard, as their dream unbeaten start to the A-League season was shattered 3-0 by Newcastle Jets at Wellington.

Sitting atop the competition ladder with four wins and two draws, the home side were surprisingly outmatched by a team outside playoff contention, with one of the worst defensive records in the league.

Fresh from celebrating his A-League Player of the Month accolade during the week, Phoenix keeper Alex Paulsen had his record well and truly dented, as his team were stunned early.

In the fifth minute, the Jets broke down the left and striker Apostolos Stamatelopoulos found himself in front of goal with the ball at his feet. Pirrouetting, he stuck his shot into the bottom right corner of the net.

All White defender Dane Ingham was the architect of their second goal just before halftime, when he fired an expert cross into the goalmouth, partially blocked by the oncoming Paulsen, but only into the path of midfielder Clayton Taylor, who made no mistake.

Any hope of a comeback was dashed immediately after the second-half restart, when Taylor sprinted into the penalty area, ball on toe, and was brought down in a two-man tackle that would only ever have one result.

Paulsen had saved two previous penalties this season, but had no answer to Stamatelopoulos from the spot on this occasion.

"Very, very disappointed," reflected captain Alex Rufer. "We didn't play the way we have been and want to, but at the end of the day, we're in a good position and just have to focus on next week.

"These things are going to happen, but it's about consistency and tonight we weren't good enough. We've got a week now to rebuild and focus on Macarthur."

Wellington are still two points clear on top of the table, one point clear of their next opponents, but Western Sydney and Brisbane Roar can catch them with wins later this weekend.

The Phoenix will travel to Sydney to face Macarthur on December 18.

Newcastle Jets 3 (Stamatelopoulos 2 & Taylor) Wellington Phoenix 0

2023-12-09T08:59:24Z dg43tfdfdgfd