Despite a disjointed performance the Wellington Phoenix beat Wests 2-1 in a pre-season friendly at Ole Academy in Porirua on Wednesday night.
In their first hit out, the Phoenix looked decidedly ring rusty against an enthusiastic young Wests side that has been playing week in week out.
Phoenix coach Ernie Merrick wasn-t too surprised that it took his team till the second half to begin causing their opponents problems as he has always said it takes time to take training performances into a game situation.
The biggest plus for Merrick was that all his players got match time under their belt, and there was also an opportunity to give some youngsters who have been training with the Phoenix a chance to show what they can do.
The youngsters included 16-year-old James McGarry, son of former All Whites star Michael McGarry and he showed some nice touches in his cameo appearance.
With regular goalkeeper Glen Moss unavailable, Lewis Italiano played his first full game in almost eight months and did well, especially with his distribution, though he would have been disappointed with the mix up between him and his defenders that ended with Louis Fenton knocking the ball into his own net to give Wests the lead.
Down 0-1at halftime, the Phoenix equalised eight minutes into the second half through Jason Hicks whose shot went under the goalkeeper.
Wests had Harry Edge sent off for dissent soon after, but the Phoenix withdrew Tyler Boyd to make it 10 v 10 and took the lead within minutes.
Roy Krishna, who looked dangerous down the right, sent in a good cross, youngster Joel Stevens nodded the ball down and Ben Sigmund scored with a half-volley.