Wellington Phoenix head coach Ernie Merrick could have been forgiven for having a smile to himself on Tuesday night as his two marquee signings, Kosta Barbarouses and Gui Finkler, made an immediate impact in a 7-1 win over Miramar at Johnsonville’s Alex Moore Park.
After playing together for four years at Melbourne Victory Barbarouses and Finkler knew each other’s game inside out and it was there for all to see as the Phoenix continued their pre-season programme.
Within 27 minutes both had scored twice to give the Phoenix a 4-0 lead and a further bonus was that both scored from the penalty spot, something which has been beyond the Wellington team for the last couple of seasons.
Finkler set Barbarouses up for the first goal in the eighth minute and Finkler made it 2-0 two minutes later with a penalty after Barbarouses had been brought down.
Barbarouses then set up Finkler for a tap in nine minutes later before scoring the fourth goal in the 27th minute from the penalty spot.
Moving the ball well around the pitch with a good tempo, the Phoenix added a fifth goal through a good Tom Doyle finish and just before halftime Roly Bonevacia made it 6-0 with a nice finish from the edge of the penalty area.
The Phoenix made nine changes in the second half and, not surprisingly, some of the cohesion went out of their play.
Liam Hare made it 7-0 in the 69th minute and Mikhail Bredeveldt scored a consolation goal for Miramar in the 89th minute.
Assistant coach Chris Greenacre, who was again given charge of the team along with Des Buckingham, said it was great to see Finkler and Barbarouses make an immediate impact.
“It is always exciting when new signings get on the pitch,” Greenacre said.
“Kosta and Gui have got to know each other’s game so well they have an almost telepathic understanding.
“In the first half we moved the ball and that is something we will look to build on.
“Miramar were competitive throughout and made us work for our goals.
“The reason we made so many changes in the second half, which disrupted our rhythm, is that it is important every player gets the right amount of match minutes under their belt.
“Everything is monitored by our sports science department and its head Lee Spence knows just how much time each player requires on the park.
“Overall it was a very satisfying night.”