A lacklustre first half contrasted with an entertaining second half was the story at Newtown Park as WaiBOP United beat 4-3 with Wellington Phoenix.
The Phoenix scored two goals in quick succession straight after the halftime break, before giving up three goals and the lead to WaiBOP. The Phoenix scored their third and final goal via a set piece move, only to be undone by a goal in the final seconds of the match. With the Phoenix first team requiring nearly all of their players due to injury, there was a chance for some of the younger players at the club to show that they could step up to the challenge of the A-League.
The two sides traded half-chances through the first 20 minutes of the match, first as the ball wouldn't sit well for Joe Bell following a corner, and the second as WaiBOP caused the young Phoenix defence all sorts of issue before they scrambled it out for a corner.
The first real opportunity of the match occurred in the 30th minute, when Ryan Tinsley beat the offside trap and was in one on one against Lewis Italiano, but couldn't place his shot on goal.
However, if the first half was a half of wasted chances and goalmouth scrambles, the second half started as a clinic on how to finish chances.
Logan Rogerson got the first goal of the match after just 37 seconds in the half. He managed to control the ball under pressure from both centre backs, turn on the spot and race towards goal, before rolling the ball past Caunter in goal and into the back of the net.
Just 50 seconds later, the Phoenix Premiers found themselves two goals to the good, after James McGarry crossed in from the left flank and found an unmarked Andrew Blake on the edge of the 6 yard box, who made no mistake in tapping the ball home.
WiBOP were given a way back into the match in the 51st minute, after Wade Maloney was fouled inside the box and earned a penalty for his side. Ryan Tinsley stepped up and made no mistake in converting the penalty, sending Oliver Sail the wrong way.
Stephen Hoyle pulled the match back to 2-2 in the 64th minute, and he turned on the spot and drove the ball across Sail and into the net. Five minutes later, WaiBOP took the lead courtesy of a Mario Ilich strike, placed to perfection to the bottom right corner of goal.
However, the Phoenix were not finished yet. After winning a free kick near the corner flag, McGarry passed the ball to Singh at the top of the box, who chipped the ball onto the head of Louis Evans at the far post who headed the ball past Caunter into the net.
The match ended in controversy as WaiBOP scored in the 96th minute of the game, despite the Assistant Referee's flag being raised. However the referee waved away the flag and the goal stood, giving WaiBOP the three points that their playoff aspirations needed.
Wellington Phoenix 3-4 WaiBOP United (half: 0-0)
WP: Logan Rogerson 46', Andrew Blake 47' Louis Evans 81'
WB: Ryan Tinsley (pen) 52', Stephen Hoyle 64', Mario Ilich 69',
Wellington Phoenix 20. Lewis ITALIANO (30. Oliver SAIL 46'), 15. James McGARRY, 24. Logan ROGERSON (35. Ruari CAHILL-FLEURY 78'), 29. Andrew BLAKE, 31. Luke TONGUE, 32. Sarpreet SINGH, 34, Sam GILLESPIE, 37. Sam PHILIP, 39. Joe BELL, 44. Louis EVANS, 45. Max MATA (41. Cherbel KHOUCHABA 64')
Unused subs: 38 Sam WILSON, 42. Oliver WHYTE
WaiBOP United 1. Louie CAUNTER, 2. Scott HILLIAR, 3. Finn COCHRANE, 4. Tyler LISETTE, 5. Adam MITCHELL, 7. Mark JONES, 8. Ryan TINSLEY, 12. Mario ILICH, 17. Stephen HOYLE (9. Dylan STANSFIELD 81'), 18. Alexi Varela (10. Frederico MARQUEZ 67'), 19. Wade MALONEY
Unused subs: 16. James HOYLE, 22. Cory MITCHELL, 25. Zac SPEEDY
Click Here to watch the Highlights!