Mark Rudan has endured an unhappy start to life as Phoenix football coach, with Wellington losing 1-0 away at Australian state league side Bentleigh Greens in his first competitive match in charge.
For large parts of the FFA Cup round-of-32 tie, Wellington resembled exactly what they are; a side in pre-season looking to mesh under a new coach with a clutch of freshly arrived players still getting used to one another.
There was little in the way of attacking cohesion and nothing to unduly worry Bentleigh Greens goalkeeper Ryan Scott.
Rudan handed starting debuts to four of his new signings, with Polish goalkeeper Filip Kurto, countryman Michal Kopczynski, English defender Steven Taylor and A-League veteran Mitch Nichols all included in the eleven.
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The home side had the better of the early exchanges and took a deserved lead after 23 minutes. A left-wing corner was missed by both Dylan Fox and Kopczynski at the near post and headed home by Marco Jankovic.
But ten minutes later, the Phoenix were handed a numerical advantage for the best part of an hour when James Kelly was sent off for a second yellow card.
With an extra man, Wellington dominated possession in the second half but were unable to break down a resolute and well-organised Bentleigh side, creating very few clear goalscoring opportunities.
On this evidence, and with the new A-League season just over two months away, Rudan will need all of that time to mould his side into one which can challenge for a top six spot.
AT A GLANCE:
Bentleigh Greens 1
Wellington Phoenix 0
Wellington Phoenix: Kurto, Lowry, Taylor, Durante, Cacace (Doyle) Fox, Kopczynski (Rufer), Nichols, Singh, Krishna, Burns (Waine).