A late Logan Rogerson goal sealed a valuable 1-0 win for Wellington Phoenix U-20 against Auckland City in Sunday’s Stirling Sports Premiership clash at David Farrington Park.
The visitors maintained a spell of continued possession early on and almost found a fortunate opening when Portuguese striker Joao Moreira charged down Lewis Italiano’s clearance only to see the ball go wide.
Louis Fenton was called into action for the Nix shortly after as he made an important interception to deny Emiliano Tade after he received a well-placed cross from Moreira.
Italiano was tested at close quarters on the 20-minute mark when Takuya Iwata received the ball at his feet and fired it towards goal.
Two minutes later the Navy Blues were presented with their best chance of the match so far as Clayton Lewis’ shot from 20 metres looked destined for the top corner, but for the diving fingertips of Italiano.
Chances proved difficult to come by for both sides with five minutes remaining in the first half as the Phoenix defence held strong.
The home side created their best opening just before half-time as Rogerson broke with speed down the left side. His cross couldn’t find the feet of James McGarry and the ball was cleared to safety as the both teams went scoreless into the half-time break.
At the start of the second half the home side found themselves with a fantastic opportunity to take the lead when Matthew Ridenton came within inches of firing his 25-metre free-kick into the top corner, only for goalkeeper Danyon Drake to get a hand to it.
The Nix defence continued to frustrate the Auckland City front-men as Italiano confidently kept out a powerful long-range attempt from Lewis.
On the 67-minute mark, Rogerson found himself with space on the top of the penalty area and attempted to curl his shot past Drake, but narrowly missed the target.
With 15 minutes remaining, Phoenix looked to capitalise on a defensive lapse from the visitors as substitute Sarpreet Singh attempted to link up with Mata who was unable to bring the ball under control.
The match-winner came with less than five minutes remaining as Singh crafted a pinpoint pass that found the feet of Rogerson who finished emphatically past Danyon Drake, much to the delight of the home supporters.
Phoenix Head Coach Andy Hedge was pleased with parts of his side's defensive display but admitted there was a degree of fortune in the result.
“Over the course of 90 minutes we’ve probably not deserved to win the game, but we took a chance and they [Auckland City] had a couple of chances they didn’t take,” Hedge said.
“The shape was very disciplined. It can get frustrating for players if they haven’t got the ball for long periods but we were exceptional at that today I thought.
“We were really pleased that we kept our discipline and kept believing in the shape and pattern that we had and then got a great counter-attack at the end to win it.”
Wellington Phoenix U-20 1-0 Auckland City
Wellington Phoenix U-20: 20. Lewis ITALIANO (GK), 5. Ryan LOWRY, 14. Alex RUFER, 15. James McGARRY (38. Ruairi CAHILL-FLEURY 45’), 16. Louis FENTON, 23. Matthew RIDENTON, 24. Logan ROGERSON, 27. Joe BELL (25. Sarpeet SINGH 70’), 28. Max MATA, 29. Liam WOOD, 40. Luke JOHNSON (42. Luke TONGUE 78’)
Unused substitutes: 30. Oliver SAIL (GK), 31. Sam PHILIP
Goalscorers: Logan ROGERSON 85’
Auckland City: 18. Danyon DRAKE (GK), 3. Takuya IWATA (13. Alfred ROGERS 76’), 4. Mario BILEN, 5. Angel BERLANGA, 6. Te Atawhai HUDSON-WIHONGI, 8. Albert RIERA, 9. Darren WHITE, 14. Clayton LEWIS, 17. Joao MOREIRA, 20. Emiliano TADE (12. Nicolai BERRY 80’), 25. Fabrizio TAVANO (7. Reid DRAKE 76’)
Unused substitutes: 24. Jacob SPOONLEY (GK), 21. Harry EDGE
Referee: Anna-Marie KEIGHLEY