Tom Glover deals with the ball — and a boot — from Phoenix’s Gary Hooper. Picture: Getty Images
Tom Glover deals with the ball — and a boot — from Phoenix’s Gary Hooper. Picture: Getty Images

City’s Kiwi hoodoo extended by Phoenix Poms

WELLINGTON'S English strikers have combined to sweet effect in a 1-0 win over Melbourne City, continuing the visitors' A-League hoodoo in New Zealand.

David Ball scored the 58th-minute winner off a Gary Hooper assist to decide an open affair on Saturday at Auckland's Eden Park, keeping the Phoenix ensconced in fifth place, just three points behind second-placed City.

Melbourne had plenty of chances to come away with points and make ground on leaders Sydney FC but were wasteful in front of goal, particularly in the second half.

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Nine different City players recorded shots on goal and Phoenix goalkeeper Stefan Marinoic registered seven saves, compared to one from counterpart Tom Glover.

The lack of finishing meant the visitors recorded a fourth-successive loss to the Phoenix on Kiwi soil and continued their overall struggles this season on the road.

Phoenix dominated possession - their 352 passes in the first half was double that of City - but they lacked the cutting edge of the visitors.

There was concern among the crowd of 15,300 when Phoenix winger Reno Piscopo limped from the field with an apparent ankle injury.

Craig Noone tried hard, but City just couldn’t find a way through. Picture: Getty Images
Craig Noone tried hard, but City just couldn’t find a way through. Picture: Getty Images

Midfielder Matti Steinmann looked to have scored his first Phoenix goal when he tapped in a Piscopo free kick on the half-hour, but VAR determined the German was off-side after a long deliberation.

Impressive City centre back Rostyn Griffiths was earlier forced into a scrambling goal line save but Wellington otherwise struggled to create chances against a deep-sitting defensive line.

Jamie Maclaren had two half-chances before the break but squandered both with uncharacteristic weak shots.

Phoenix celebrate David Ball’s goal, which would be the eventual matchwinner. Picture: AAP
Phoenix celebrate David Ball’s goal, which would be the eventual matchwinner. Picture: AAP

Melbourne's attack came alive early in the second spell but they conceded against the run of play when former Celtic star Hooper stormed into space down the right and delivered a pinpoint cross to the excellent Ball, whose first touch gave him a fourth goal for the season.



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