Wellington Phoenix's new signings combined brilliantly with their new team-mates as the side secured a comfortable 3-0 win over a Capital Select XI on Saturday at Weka Park on the Kapiti Coast.
In front of over 2000 fans, first-half goals from Kosta Barbarouses and Michael McGlinchey gave the A-League side a 2-0 lead at halftime, with a second-half strike to Alex Rodriguez rounding off the impressive victory for Wellington.
Phoenix began the match with a full-strength side, including exciting new signings Barbarouses, Gui Finkler and Marco Rossi.
They pressed high early on and soon began to take control. Approaching the quarter hour, a flowing move from one side of the pitch to the other had Barbarouses in the clear, but he had his shot expertly saved by Dan Clarke at close range.
It didn’t take much longer for Phoenix to make the breakthrough.
Again, a neat passing move opened up space for Barbarouses on the edge of the area and he only had the goalkeeper to beat. The striker comfortably slotted into the top corner to give Wellington a deserved lead.
Ten minutes before the break, Barbarouses caused havoc in the opposition backline with a magnificent mazy dribble. He laid it off for Finkler who found McGlinchey in the area, but the shot was well saved by McPeake.
The Capital Select XI goalkeeper was in inspirational form and pulled off a tremendous save a minute later from Roy Krishna on the edge of box.
Phoenix continued to pile on the pressure and on the stroke of halftime Bonevacia sent in a delightful cross for McGlinchey, who got his head to it before McPeake, to make it 2-0 at the interval.
Wellington were looking the more dangerous after the break, but the Capital Select XI still forced an outstanding save from Glen Moss early in the second half.
Phoenix should have gone further in front on 70 minutes. Substitute Rodriguez picked up the ball near halfway and combined with Barbarouses, but the Spaniard’s shot was cleared off the line.
Soon after, Head Coach Ernie Merrick launched some of the most promising teenagers in New Zealand with Willem Ebbinge, Liam Hare, Calvin Harris and Liam Wood coming on from the bench.
The Phoenix Academy players made an immediate impact as Rodriguez made it 3-0 with a fierce shot into the top corner from close range.
While there were chances at both ends in the closing stages, the A-League side secured a comfortable 3-0 and a chance for the local fans to get their first look at some of the exciting signings ahead of the new season.
Head Coach Ernie Merrick was delighted with the overall performance and also the linkup play between his new signings and established stars McGlinchey, Bonevacia and Roy Krishna.
“Roy is already showing he performs well with Kosta, and with service coming from our midfield from Gui Finkler, Mikey McGlinchey and Roly Bonevacia, that combination up front is working well,” Merrick said.
“I thought our Italian centre-back Marco Rossi just combined really well with Andrew Durante. Rossi has been a really good find for us.
“Tom Doyle has probably played one of his best games that I’ve seen and although ‘Bob’ Dylan Fox is not great at right-back, he’s beginning to show promise in that position when needed.
“It was a really good day. It was a really good match with the Capital Select XI really putting it on for us. It was a good hit out for the players, it was good for the kids and it was good for the squad.”
Wellington Phoenix: Glen Moss (GK) (Sail 71’); Tom Doyle, Marco Rossi, Andrew Durante (Wood 75’), Dylan Fox; Vince Lia, Michael McGlinchey (Rodriguez 65), Roly Bonevacia (Ebbinge 71’), Gui Finkler (Hare 71’); Roy Krishna (Watson 65’), Kosta Barbarouses (Harris 75’)