Herbert hails Auckland

Wellington Phoenix coach Ricki Herbert was all smiles with Auckland's hosting of their Hyundai A-League clash against Adelaide United on Saturday.

Wellington Phoenix coach Ricki Herbert was all smiles with Auckland's hosting of their Hyundai A-League clash against Adelaide United on Saturday.

Over 20,000 spectators came through the turnstiles at Eden Park, and Herbert said he was glad his side was able to provide the on-field drama with a late equaliser ensuring a thrilling draw.

"It's nice we contributed to it in the end. I think it was quite tense - people were on the edge of their seats and they wanted to see us score and we did," Herbert said.

"It's two club teams playing, not national teams playing and I think everyone's to be applauded."

Herbert said he didn't think there was any pressure on the Wellington crowds to respond to such a figure - it was the highest ever home crowd in the regular season for the Phoenix - and was delighted at the growth of the club throughout the country.

"Naturally you're going to get that from a competition point of view. I think for our code it's healthy, hopefully in the landscape of our sport. We got 15,000 in Dunedin, 20,000 up in Auckland, 10,000 last year in Hamilton for a pre-season game," he said.

"I think locally around the country the brand and the club is incredibly well supported. It's been a long, hard five years building it. It'll continue to grow and things are going to expand and develop as well, I just think it's fantastic."

"If you can come to Auckland and get 20,000 people. Let's acknowledge that, I think that's brilliant."

Phoenix defender Ben Sigmund said Auckland's club strategy - informing all of the region's clubs and then informing the children of the event through those clubs - definitely paid off with the atmosphere helping the team through.

"I think that really did help with the crowd, especially in that second half. It was an amazing atmosphere and it did drive us on to press us on and get that goal," Sigmund said.

Sigmund also said the courage the club has shown to recover from the administrative woes it was faced with pre-season meant the Phoenix were a team with an edge.

"Everyone knows what has gone on in the last six months, a year or whatever. What we've got in that changing room is something not many teams have probably got. We're all doing it for each other, working hard and there's belief there - every game we go out, we go out to win," he said.

"And the boys will be giving it everything for the whole season knowing that."