The Wellington Phoenix made a nervy start to the Hyundai A-League season when they were beaten 2-1 by Perth Glory at Westpac Stadium on Sunday.
In the first 15 minutes the home side looked surprisingly on edge but once they settled down got into the game more only for defensive errors and a lack of finishing at the other end to cost them dearly.
It was a loose pass by debutant Tom Doyle that led to the first goal with the ball being whipped in for Andrew Keogh to head past Glen Moss in the Phoenix goal.
From that point the Phoenix got on top and had chances to draw level before halftime.
They had three close-range shots in succession blocked by the Glory defence but should have taken the lead when Nathan Burns was put clear with only goalkeeper Danny Vukovic to beat but the keeper got down well to block the shot with his left hand.
The second half belonged to the Phoenix for long periods but chances went begging till Michael McGlinchey marked his debut with a goal after good work by Roly Bonevacia and Nathan Burns.
With the scores level the home side looked the more likely to go on and win the game only for a second defensive error to undo them.
Substitute Vince Lia played a square pass to Ben Sigmund but the centre back couldn’t reach it and substitute Jamie McLaren took the chance to burst clear and hammer the ball past Moss.
Phoenix coach Ernie Merrick wasn’t unhappy with his team’s overall performance but disappointed with the way the goals were conceded.
“Overall we played some good football but paid dearly for defensive mistakes,” Merrick said.
“It was a typical first game of the season though I was a bit surprised how nervy we were in the first 15 minutes.
“Once we settled we played some good football but had nothing to show for it.
“I’m really disappointed that we didn’t get at least a point from the game but if you don’t score goals and give soft goals away you are not going to win games.”
The Phoenix now need to regroup and prepare for the trip to Central Coast next weekend.
Wellington Phoenix: Glen Moss, Manny Muscat, Ben Sigmund, Andrew Durante, Tom Doyle (Louis Fenton 62m), Albert Riera, Alex Rodriguez (Vince Lia 79m), Roly Bonevacia (Roy Krishna 90m), Nathan Burns, Michael McGlinchey, Jeremy Brockie.