Two fine strikes from Roly Bonevacia helped Wellington Phoenix to a 3-1 win over Western Sydney Wanderers at Pirtek Stadium on Sunday night.
In an action-packed opening the Wanderers almost landed the first blow when Jaushua Sotirio’s shot skipped past the bottom corner of the Wellington goal.
But the Phoenix drew first blood soon after through Bonevacia whose rasping drive from 25-yards left Dean Bouzanis with no chance.
The Dutch midfielder’s screamer might have served as a wake-up call for Tony Popovic’s side but they found themselves 2-0 down just moments later.
It was Bonevacia again with another spectacular strike, this time dispatching Kwabenah Appiah’s cutback to double the Phoenix’s lead.
Both sides made a raft of changes at the break, which was followed by a bizarre passage of play that saw Sotirio fouled outside the area and both Phoenix centre-halves booked.
The resulting free kick was handled in the area presenting Federico Piovacarri the chance to score on his Wanderers debut.
However it was a moment to forget for the Italian marquee; his weak penalty guided straight down the centre and easily deflected to safety by Lewis Italiano.
Mitch Nichols did pull a goal back in the 70th minute when the Phoenix gave the ball away but Powell restored the visitors two-goal margin by pouncing on some sloppy defending and scoring.
Coach Ernie Merrick was delighted with his team’s performance, however will have a nervous wait on the fitness of goalkeeper Glen Moss after he jarred his neck in the warm up.
“It was a very good performance,” Merrick said.
“It was disappointing to lose another first team player in the warm up but Glen’s injury is temporary and hopefully we will have him back for the Sydney game, but I was really impressed with the way the backline performed.
“Vince Lia slotted in between the two centre backs when needed and they were rock solid the whole game.
“Lewis did well to save the penalty and the midfield was outstanding.
“Up front it was good to see Kwabena (Appiah) having a good run alongside Roy (Krishna) and Michael McGlinchey was setting them up left, right and centre.
“Then there was Roly’s two strikes which were outstanding, especially the first one.
"It is good that it is coming together well and that we are getting more first team players on the pitch.