The Wellington Phoenix completed their build up to the Hyundai A-League season with a 6-2 win over Canterbury at Westpac Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
While Phoenix coach Ernie Merrick was pleased to see his team find the net six times he was just as pleased with the overall standard of play they produced.
Apart from Albert Riera and Glen Moss, who were not risked with the first game only two weeks away, Merrick played his likely starting line- up and they settled into their stride midway through the first half.
The Phoenix opened the scoring in the 27th minute through Dutch import Roly Bonevacia who did well to control the ball and slide it into the net after an Alex Rodriguez shot had been parried.
Eight minutes later Bonevacia and Rodriguez set Tom Doyle free on the left and the fullback produced a firm, low cross that Jeremy Brockie turned into the net at the near post.
Nathan Burns was the provider five minutes before the break with a low cross from the right for Rodriguez to score.
Vince Lia, who has had a hamstring problem for much of pre-season, made a welcome return in midfield for the first 45 minutes and came through unscathed after showing his usual competitiveness.
Alex Rufer replaced Lia at halftime and Josh Brindell-South took over from Doyle.
On the hour Merrick made a further eight changes but it did little to disrupt the Phoenix rhythm, though they looked shaky defensively compared to the first 45 minutes.
A cross from Roy Krishna was turned into the net by a Canterbury defender to make it 4-0, and Kenny Cunningham made it 5-0 in the 66th minute after a Tyler Boyd free-kick had been parried by the visiting goalkeeper.
Boyd completed the scoring in the 75th minute with Krishna again the provider from the right flank.
Canterbury’s goals came from Tom Schwarz, from the penalty spot in the 68th minute, and Ash Welbourn with an 88th minute header.
Merrick expressed his satisfaction with the hit out and said it would be the Phoenix’ last pre-season game apart from intra-squad matches.
“I was very happy with what I saw today,” Merrick said.
“Canterbury are a quick side that has been competitive in the ASB Championship.
“It gave us a chance to iron out a few things and most of the boys got 60 minutes which was what we had planned so we can taper off training a little leading into the first game against Perth Glory.”
Merrick was particularly pleased with the link up play from midfield and that Bonevacia and Rodriguez both got on the scoresheet.
“I encouraged Roly and Alex to get forward into goal scoring positions and they both scored.
“It is important that the responsibility for scoring goals shouldn’t rest solely with the strikers so you have to have two attacking midfielders who can chip in.”
Merrick was particularly impressed with Michael McGlinchey who has finally joined the Wellington side after a prolonged transfer saga.
“It is the third game Michael has played for us and he has got better each time,” Merrick said. “He has quickly learnt how to work in with the other strikers and midfielders.”