Head Coach Ufuk Talay’s reign at Wellington Phoenix started in the best possible way, a 7-0 win over Central League side, Wairarapa United.
Jaushua Sotirio gave Wellington Phoenix the lead early in the first half after clever play from import striker, David Ball. The English number 9 beat his man into the box and set up Sotirio to slot in from 6-yards out.
Despite several promising attacks from Wairarapa United and their dangerous attacker, Seule Soromon, the defensive duo of Steven Taylor and Luke DeVere coped with the pressure.
There was further joy for the visiting side when Mexican striker, Ulises Dávila unleashed a tremendous curling effort to double the lead. The number 7 wriggled free of his defender inside the home box and fizzed his shot in beyond Scott Morris in the Wairarapa goal.
With three players in the starting XI from last season, Talay fielded a side that showed perseverance, skill and class against a well-oiled Wairarapa United team.
Halfway through the opening 45 minutes and Cameron Devlin added to the scoreline with a sublime volley inside the box to increase the lead to three.
With complete domination in possession, Wellington Phoenix added a fourth thanks to new number nine, Ball. The English striker capitalised on a loose ball inside the home box as he smashed home the fourth.
Despite the resilient Wairarapa side, Wellington Phoenix claimed another goal shortly before the interval. It was Ball once again, as he attempted to better Davila’s spectacular goal earlier in the half. Managing to create some space for himself inside the box, Ball rasped his shot into the top corner to further the lead.
Heading into the break at five nil and Ufuk Talay’s side looked confident of creating even more chances.
There were two changes at the break, with Stefan Marinovic making way for Oli Sail and youngster Benjamin Waine coming on for David Ball.
Waine made an instant impact, making a run in behind before laying it off for Davila whose audacious chip landed on top of the goal.
Defender, Cacace then made it six after a great pass from Sotirio. The young full back smashed in a half volley as the lead was gradually escaping the home side.
The final goal of the evening was kept for Sotirio who bagged a second, this time capitalising on a Waine rebound.
With the win all but secured, Talay made a ring of changes to provide some Academy players the opportunity on the field.
Despite the lack of professional experience, the youthful Nix side created chance after chance and retained the ball well. Waine, wriggled free of his marker outside the box and unleashed a shot, which went narrowly over the bar.
Wairarapa remained in the game and forced a smart save from Oli Sail. The goalkeeper tipped over a rasping effort from distance to keep the clean sheet and begin the pre-season in perfect style.
The game ended 7-0 to the visitors and Ufuk Talay will be happy to have tested his players in their first pre-season fixture.
Thanks to everyone who came out to see us as we look forward to seeing you again at Westpac Stadium when the season commences in early October.
Starting XI: 1. Stefan MARINOVIC (GK), 3. Luke DEVERE, 6. Tim PAYNE, 7. Ulises DÁVILA, 8. Cameron DEVLIN, 9. David BALL, 11. Jaushua SOTIRIO, 13. Liberato CACACE, 14. Alex RUFER, 17. Callan ELLIOT, 27. Steven TAYLOR (C).
Subs: 4. Te Atawhai HUDSON-WIHONGI, 5. Kurtis MOGG, 12. Liam MCGING, 15. Henry HAMILTON, 18. Adam HEWSON, 19. Oskar VAN HATTUM, 20. Oli SAIL (GK), 21. Callum MCCOWATT, 23. Walter SCOTT, 31. Benjamin WAINE, 32. Stephen SPROWSON.
Goals: 14' Jaushua Sotirio, 23' Ulises Davila, 34' Cameron Devlin, 40' David Ball, 44' David Ball, 59' Liberato Cacace, 60' Jaushua Sotirio
Starting XI: 1. Scott MORRIS (GK), 2. Liam HEARD, 4. Cam LINDSAY ©, 5. Dan ALLAN, 6. Noah BOYCE, 7. Jonty ROUBOS, 9. Seule SOROMON, 11. Taylor HALL JONES, 14. Simon MAREY, 16. Josh RUDLAND, 18. Riley MCMENAMIN.
Subs: 3. Stanley ARCHIBALD, 8. Paul IFILL, 10. Riley GROVER, 12. Alexander BRITTON, 15. Connor TURTON, 17. Mark HEMI, Oskar JAMES.