A cold and windy night in Wellington saw the Phoenix fail to capitalize on a one man advantage, losing 1-0 to a resilient Melbourne City side.

City presented tough opposition to a weakened Phoenix side who after a strong preseason looked to put the disappointment of the 2015/16 campaign behind them.

Having lost numerous players to international duty, including captain Andrew Durante and the returning Kosta Barbarouses, the task ultimately proved too difficult.

Melbourne City had the better of the opening stages, ‘Nix keeper Glen Moss getting down well to claim a low cross as City captain and last season’s Golden Boot winner Bruno Fornaroli broke into the box in the opening seconds.

Somewhat inevitably City looked to expose the inexperience of the Wellington Phoenix flanks.

Moss was in the action again and saved Fernando Brandan’s header excellently to his right after Fornaroli continued to find space on the right.

Fornaroli once more found space shortly after, forcing a save from Moss following yet another cross from the right.

New signing Adam Parkhouse, who transferred from New South Wales NPL outfit Manly United last month, looked out of his depth in the right back position.

The goal did eventually come for City, Anthony Caceres finding space in the middle following a cross and leaving Moss with no chance as the midfielder expertly danced around him, firing home into an empty net.

1-0 for Melbourne City and for the home side half time couldn’t come quickly enough.

It took 40 minutes for the Nix first real chance of the game, Roy Krishna’s cross-cum-shot dealt with unconvincingly by Thomas Sorenson.

Come the halftime whistle the Nix counted their blessings, heading into the tunnel with Melbourne knowing they could be up by three.

As the second stanza began Wellington looked to find more purpose in attack.

Bonavacia pushed further forward in an attempt to aide Roy Krishna, the result of which paid dividends early. Krishna forced keeper Sorenson into a hand ball after rushing to collect a sloppy back-pass and the former Aston Villa keeper was sent for an early shower in the 58th minute.

A man up with half an hour to play, the Phoenix went searching for an equalizer. Struggling to create a goal, the final ball was found wanting far too often.

80 minutes in and the Phoenix had still failed to find the elusive back of the net. Roy Krishna was sent through one on one with keeper Bouzanis, the substitute keeper coming up trumps as the Fijian attempted to replicate Caceres’ earlier finish.

Wellington manager Ernie Merrick had hoped pregame to see the 10,000 strong crowd stripping off in the final minutes as per the local tradition. The thought of this however had all but faded by the final whistle, Melbourne holding on for a narrow 1-0 victory.

The Phoenix head across the channel next week with a trip to Perth in the Distance Derby and the chance to welcome back the five All Whites who presence was sorely missed.

Melbourne City FC: 1 (Careres 31’)
Wellington Phoenix: 0

Westpac Stadium

Referee: Peter Green
Assistant Referees: Simon Lount, Glen Lochrie
Fourth Official: Mathew Conger

Wellington Phoenix
1. MOSS Glen 2. JACOB Tratt 4. BONEVACIA Rolieny 6. DYLAN Fox 7. FINKLER Guilherme 8. RODRIGUEZ Alex 11. WATSON Hamish (RUFER Alex 46’) 12. PARKHOUSE Adam 13. ROSSI Marco 17. LIA Vince (c) (24. ROGERSON Logan )21. KRISHNA Roy
Substitutes: 5. LOWRY Ryan 14. RUFER Alex 20. ITALIANO Lewis 26. SINCLAIR Jack-Henry

Melbourne City FC
1. SORENSON Thomas 3. ROSE Joshua 4. CHAPMAN Connor 8. KILKENNY Neil 9. COLAZO Nicolas (12. FITZGERALD Nick 70’) 10. CACERES Anthony 11. KAMAU Bruce 22. JACOBSON Michael 23. FORNAROLI Bruno (c) 26. BRATTAN Luke 27. BRANDAN Fernando (20. BOUZANIS Dean 62’)
Substitutes: 2. MUSCAT Emmanuel 6.  MALIK Osama 12. FITZGERALD Nick 18. RETRE Paulo 20. BOUZANIS Dean

SHARE