IT'S a statistical anomaly Michael McGlinchey is struggling to get his head around - the usually goal-shy creative midfielder has suddenly found himself on the first scoring spree of his professional career.
Admittedly, the Central Coast Mariners playmaker has scored only once so far this season but added a brace for the All Whites in their Oceania World Cup qualifier against Tahiti last month. He might finally have made the long-awaited transformation from provider to finisher.
Two right-foot screamers from long range against the Tahitians in Christchurch boosted his goal tally to three from 20 appearances for the national side, and last weekend against Sydney FC he matched his scoring rate from the two previous campaigns with a left-footed drive after he weaved into the box at Bluetongue Stadium.
McGlinchey might not be celebrating with the regularity of Robin van Persie but to be on the competition's goal-scoring chart after five rounds is a triumph for the Wellington-born, Glasgow-raised 25-year-old.
An automatic choice for club and country, McGlinchey's work ethic and ability to work within a pattern is indisputable, but even he admits to being frustrated at the paucity of goals on his record.
In his maiden A-League season in 2009-10, he was unable to find the net in 21 games for the Mariners. He had to wait until round 22 against the Wellington Phoenix to open his account in 2010-11 after 34 appearances. He was off the mark relatively quickly in 2011-12 against Sydney FC in the seventh round, but that was his lot from a campaign that spanned 30 games.
''I don't know what's going on,'' McGlinchey laughed when asked to explain his new-found role as goal poacher. ''At the start of every season I say to myself, 'Goals are something I need to improve on'. It's all right playing week-in, week out and I've been doing pretty well with assists but you want to be getting the goals as well.
''As an attacking player, you sort of get judged on it, so to get three goals at the start of the season has obviously done my confidence the world of good. It does get to you a little bit, when a goal streak comes along, you try and get as many as you can to try and take a bit of pressure off yourself.''
Primarily seen as a conduit to goal for the Mariners' strike force, an adjustment to Graham Arnold's midfield formation offers McGlinchey scope to venture into the box.
''I've been pushed a little bit further forward in the diamond so I should be contributing more in the goal department,'' he said before Sunday's match against Wellington Phoenix.
McGlinchey arrived in Wellington buoyed by his side's 7-2 rout of Sydney FC and although Wellington can be a foreboding place for an opposing team, the Mariners won both encounters at Westpac Stadium last season.
Danny McBreen, who scored the first hat-trick in the club's history last weekend, and wonder kid Tom Rogic also take on the Phoenix in a good frame of mind, with the latter revelling in his first call-up to the Socceroos after scoring twice against Sydney.
Rogic scored a superb individual goal against the Phoenix in Gosford last season and will be the player to watch when the home side seeks to atone for back-to-back losses to Adelaide and Melbourne Victory. ''He's a fantastic player and he's definitely been maturing over the past three months,'' McGlinchey said of Rogic. ''He'll be heading overseas eventually, so we have to make the most of him.''
While Rogic is poised to make his senior international debut in South Korea on Wednesday, McGlinchey earns cap 21 in the friendly against China in Shanghai.
The story Net gain for Mariners as playmaker McGlinchey hits goal run first appeared on Brisbane Times.