A late penalty was enough to give Team Wellington the bragging rights as they emerged 2-1 victors over cross-town rivals, the Wellington Phoenix during the first round of the ASB Premiership at David Farrington Park on Sunday.
Team Wellington entered the derby match looking to build on a successful preseason campaign which saw them secure the services of Napier City Rovers defender Bill Robertson, Auckland’s Alex Feneridis and Luis Corrales as well as claiming the ASB Charity Cup against Auckland City.
It was the Phoenix who started the match with more intent as first-team regular Tyler Boyd showed his turn of pace to the 450 spectators in attendance as he created two good chances in the first 10 minutes.
Costa Rican international Kenny Cunningham joined Boyd in the frontline and was unlucky not to score when his glancing header went just wide after 15 minutes.
Just before the half hour mark, the Phoenix found the goal they were looking for as Boyd beat Adam Cowan on the left wing before cutting inside and squeezing his shot inside the left post albeit slightly deflected.
The goal seemed to wake Team Wellington up as they began to regain the ascendancy in midfield to create some good chances of their own.
They didn’t have to wait long for their equaliser as Luis Corrales brought the ball down in the box before swivelling and hitting his shot past goalkeeper Oliver Sail and into the bottom left corner to make it 1-1 going into the halftime break.
Both teams came out searching for the killer blow in the second half but the windy conditions limited both sides to just a few half chances each until the turning point of the match came inside the final 10 minutes.
After having just had a strong penalty claim turned down for a handball minutes earlier, Team Wellington substitute Michael Gwyther was pushed in the box by the 16-year-old James McGarry leaving referee Peter O’Leary to point to the spot.
Seasoned campaigner Cole Peverley stepped up and made no mistake as he drilled the ball into the bottom right corner.
Just two minutes later, Phoenix midfielder Alex Rufer was sent for an early shower after receiving his second yellow card of the afternoon for a bad challenge on Sean Morris, leaving Team Wellington with an extra man for the final few minutes to secure the win.
Team Wellington coach Matt Calcott was pleased with his team’s performance after a week where a lot of questions about the game were flying around.
“There’s been a lot of talk about everybody else and how many players they could play but we just focused on what we were doing,” Calcott said.
“We weren’t worried about who they would turn up with but they had some real rockstars out there today, and six of them, fulltime pros so I was really proud of our boys.”
Calcott said the result was also pleasing considering the short time the squad had spent together.
“It was good to see. The majority of the squad have only been together for three to four weeks and it’s tough to get results early on. We know that we improve and usually get stronger as the campaign goes on.”
Wellington Phoenix coach Andy Hedge reflected on a tight game which saw his players get some much-needed time on the pitch.
“We tried to cope physically with Team Wellington but it was good for our boys to get involved in a competitive game after training for so long,” Hedge said.
“I think we were short of a yard of match fitness today but I can’t fault their effort.”
Hedge also highlighted the benefit of promising players getting the chance to mix with Phoenix professionals on the park.
“That’s the whole purpose of the exercise really. It’s giving these young men the opportunities to play competitive games but also be surrounded by professional athletes so they can use them as mentors and push them on.
“People like Tyler Boyd, Michael Boxall and Kenny Cunningham today led by example.”
ASB Premiership 2014-15 – Round 1
Sunday 2 November
Team Wellington 2-1 Wellington Phoenix (half: 1-1)
TW: Luis Corrales 38, Cole Peverley 82’(pen)
WP: Tyler Boyd 29’
Red card: (WP) Alex Rufer 84’ (second caution)
Team Wellington: 1. Michael O’Keeffe, 2. Greg Rosenthal, 5. Bill Robertson, 7. Henry Fa’arodo (17. Sean Morris 80’), 8. Cole Peverley, 9. Jarrod Smith (11. Michael Gwyther 75’), 13. Alex Feneridis, 14. James Musa, 15. Luis Corrales (4. Tyler Lissette 87’), 19. Cory Chettleburgh, 20. Adam Cowan
Substitutes not used: 3. Lee Colligan, 22. Dan Clarke
Coach: Matt Calcott
Wellington Phoenix: 5. Michael Boxall (capt), 6. Josh Brindall-South, 7. Kenny Cunningham, 12. Tyler Boyd, 14. Alex Rufer, 15. Jason Hicks, 29. Joel Stevens (36. Cherbel Khouchaba 84’), 30. Oliver Sail (GK), 31. Andrew Blake, 32. Tamupiwa Dimario, 38. Justin Gulley (33. James McGarry 66’)
Substitutes not used: 35. Sam Wilson, 39. Joe Bell, 40. Marcel Kampman
Coach: Andy Hedge