Sydney FC clung on to a slender first-half lead as Wellington Phoenix piled on the pressure in the second half, but despite the dominance, the away side claimed all three points.
Steve Corica’s men were well aware of the damage Wellington Phoenix could inflict on his side and it showed as they sat deep and waited patiently for an opening in the first half.
Mark Rudan fielded a different side that drew at Melbourne Victory, bringing back Nathan Burns and starting Cillian Sheridan for a new look attack.
Burns was lively in the first half trying to link up with frontman Sheridan outside the Sydney box but the away side were stubborn in their defence.
Sydney FC got the breakthrough halfway through the half as a promising attack ended in Siem De Jong poking home from six yards. The goalscorer then immediately fell to the floor and had to be substituted due to the serious injury.
Wellington Phoenix enjoyed a few chances of their own as Mandi Sosa floated in a searching ball to Steven Taylor at the back post but unfortunately, the wind caught the ball and lifted it out for a goal-kick to Sydney.
Filip Kurto was in fine form yet again and made several important saves to keep his side in touching distance before the break.
The second half began and Wellington Phoenix were on the front foot, attacking the Sky Blues at every opportunity.
Liberato Cacace was lively down their left wing as he entered the Sydney box on several occasions in search of an equaliser early in the second half.
Head Coach, Rudan livened things up and brought Sarpreet Singh on in place of Burns and the youngster immediately made an impression on the game.
Singh drove at the Sydney backline, feeding a ball through for Cacace whose shot was blocked by Benjamin Warland.
Thirty minutes left of the game and Wellington Phoenix thought they had a penalty as a short corner came to Singh inside the box. His cross appeared to have hit the hand of a Sydney defender but the referee waved away the appeal.
Top scorer Roy Krishna came close as the lively Cacace crossed in for the Fijian, but he couldn’t connect as the Sydney defence remained tight.
Ten minutes remained of the game and Taylor was brought down inside the Sydney box with referee, Daniel Elder signaling for the penalty.
Up stepped Krishna who shot to the left, but Andrew Redmayne got down to save and deny Wellington Phoenix an equaliser.
The home side piled all the pressure on Sydney but were unable to break their backline as Sydney escaped with all three points.
Full Highlights here.
— Wellington Phoenix (@WgtnPhoenixFC) January 23, 2019
1. Filip KURTO, 4. Mandi SOSA, 7. Cillian SHERIDAN, 9. Nathan BURNS, 13. Liberato CACACE,14. Alex RUFER, 16. Louis FENTON, 18. Sarpreet SINGH, 21. Roy KRISHNA, 22. Andrew DURANTE, 27. Steven TAYLOR
Wellington Phoenix Substitutes
54’ OFF 9. Nathan BURNS ON 18. Sarpreet SINGH
64’ OFF 7. Cillian SHERIDAN ON 11. David WILLIAMS
Sydney FC Substitutions
29’ OFF 22. Siem DE JONG ON 11. DAniel DE SILVA
40’ OFF 17. Anthony CACERES ON 14. Alex BROSQUE
90+1’ OFF 9. Adam LE FONDRE ON 8. Paulo RETRE
Next Match details
Wellington Phoenix vs. Melbourne City, Saturday 26th January 2019, Westpac Stadium, 7:35pm NZT