Phoenix stun defending ASB champions

That the Wellington Phoenix are building strength in depth was emphasised when the club’s reserve team stunned defending ASB Premiership champions Auckland City 3-1 in Auckland on Sunday.

That the Wellington Phoenix are building strength in depth was emphasised when the club’s reserve team stunned defending ASB Premiership champions Auckland City 3-1 in Auckland on Sunday.

Auckland City, fresh from their World Club Cup exploits, didn’t know what hit them as the Wellington youngsters raced to a 3-0 lead within half an hour before a big crowd at Kiwitea Street.

Nathaniel Hailemariam helped himself to two goals and livewire Joel Stevens scored the other.

Auckland’s Fabrizio Tavano pulled one back for the home side but that was as much as they could manage.

The only downside on the day for the Phoenix was having defender Tom Doyle sent off along with City’s Mario Bilen after a scuffle late in the game.

Phoenix coach Andy Hedge was delighted with the way his team performed to bring about the upset.

“It was a great day,” Hedge said.

“The crowd was huge so it was a really good experience for our young players.

“Oli Sail made a handful of good saves but I think special mention has to go to (right back) Tam Dimario.

“He was absolutely outstanding against Emiliano Tade, one of the league’s top players.

“Tam kept him quiet for large periods of the game and stopped a lot of attacks going down that wing.”

The Phoenix’ next  ASB Championship game is against competition leader Team Wellington.