A superb 84th minute headed goal by Ben Sigmund gave Wellington Phoenix a 1-0 win over Perth Glory at Westpac Stadium tonight and three valuable points.
In a scrappy game that never really flowed, in part because of the amount whistle from referee Ryan Shepherd, it took the Phoenix till into the second half to win the arm wrestle against a tough Glory side.
The Phoenix deserved the points for their second half performance though they had to withstand a late rally from Perth and the harsh sending off of substitute Mirjan Pavlovic.
Phoenix coach Ricki Herbert was delighted with the three points and the way his team dug deep against determined opposition.
“It was a tough one; a bit of a wrestle,” Herbert said.
“They are direct, strong and in your face. It makes them difficult to play against.
“There was also a lot of whistle that made it difficult to get things going.
“It was pleasing to keep a clean sheet and I felt we were the better team.”
Goal hero Sigmund said keeping a clean sheet was as good a feeling as scoring the winning goal.
“You always worry when Shane (Smeltz) is around. When we lost in Perth he did nothing all game and then scored the only goal of the game,” Sigmund said.
“I was determined he wouldn-t score today. The back four has played well all season and it will be a pity if Tony (Lochhead) Iis out.”
Lochhead sustained a groin injury in the closing stages and is likely to miss Wednesday-s game against Brisbane Roar in Dunedin.
“There was always the potential for the game to boil over but we kept our composure well,” Sigmund said.
Wellington Phoenix 1 (Ben Sigmund), Perth Glory 0. HT 0-0.