Phoenix 1
Wanderers 0

A lesson in persistence saw the Phoenix eventually earn a win over the champions of Asia at Westpac Stadium tonight.

After putting Western Sydney on the ropes for much of the match, Nathan Burns secured all three points by landing the knockout blow with 10 minutes to play.

The strike would have been especially pleasing for coach Ernie Merrick - not least because substitute Roy Krishna put the ball on a plate for Wellington's leading scorer.


The Phoenix seemed set to find nothing but frustration and become the fifth straight side to be denied by Ante Covic in the Wanderers' goal, before Burns' effort lifted his side into the A-League's top four.

Michael McGlinchey missed a late penalty that would have made the result safe but the Phoenix would have been content with a single goal, given the way they struggled to truly test Covic.

With the Wanderers seemingly suffering from a hangover - figuratively and, perhaps, literally - after being crowned the Asian kings in Saudi Arabia last weekend, last seasons' runner-up were atypically vulnerable.

Western Sydney were content to sit back and let the Phoenix assume control of the midfield and, pleasingly for the 7000 home fans, the Phoenix were more than comfortable stringing together passes and creating half-openings.

There was, however, a lack of cutting edge that saw Covic largely redundant, with a snap shot from the dangerous Roly Bonevacia seeing the keeper complete a solitary save in the first half.

Louis Fenton had one golden opportunity to render those woes irrelevant but, on the stroke of halftime, missed an open goal as McGlinchey's menacing free kick skimmed off the turf in front of the fullback. Fenton's night got much worse in the second spell as he was helped from the field after an apparent recurrence of his lingering shoulder troubles, though his pain would have been brightened at least by Burns' heroics.

Even before that strike the Phoenix rarely looked like losing, although Wanderers did show enough endeavour in the second spell to force Glen Moss into a fine close-range save from Matthew Spiranovic.

Aside from that block, Moss was as untested as his opposite number, meaning the three points for the Phoenix were much deserved. And there was even a cherry on top for the Phoenix custodian, with the clean sheet snapping a streak of 16 straight games in which his line was breached.

Phoenix 1 (Burns 80)
Wanderers 0
HT: 0-0