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First Away Win For Phoenix

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Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Wellington, Nov 22 NZPA - Wellington Phoenix finally recorded their first away win of the A-League soccer season with a 1-0 victory over Newcastle Jets at EnergyAustralia Stadium in Newcastle today.

The win is only their fourth of this year's competition and consolidates their midtable position as the play-offs close in.

The Phoenix showed little signs of a World Cup letdown -- barely a week after beating Bahrain 1-0 in Wellington, the team's six All Whites settled back quickly into A-League mode and looked focused right from the first whistle.

The game was played in stifling conditions at EnergyAustralia Stadium, temperatures nearing 40degC at kickoff, and the Wellington team looked composed in controlling the tempo of the match.

English striker Paul Ifill got the Phoenix off to the best possible start, scoring his sixth goal of the season 14 minutes into the game when a pinpoint Tony Lochhead cross found the English striker's lunging right foot.

Newcastle were without strikers Michael Bridges, Sasho Petrovksi and Jason Hoffman, and consequently seemed to lack a little sharpness up front.

They managed to create only the odd half chance, and lacked patience on attack, although as they game wore on they gradually put the Phoenix defence under more pressure.

Well-marshalled by captain Andrew Durante, and with Ben Sigmund dominant in the air, the Phoenix back four were rarely threatened and keeper Mark Paston had a stress-free first half.

In contrast, Jets keeper Neil Young -- starting for an injured Ben Kennedy -- was kept busy, and was forced into a spectacular save in the opening minute of the second spell.

Midfielder Leo Bertos continued his recent improved form, sending a probing cross into the box, Ifill got in front of marker Ljubo Milicevic and only Young's quick reactions kept the Jets in the match.

The second half turned into a battle of attrition, with both teams fighting the debilitating conditions, and chances few and far between.

With the game winding down and barely two minutes left on the clock, Newcastle suddenly sprung into life. Paston's reactions on the line proved invaluable when a Newcastle corner found the head of striker Labinot Haliti, and the All Whites custodian smothered the chance from close range.

Deep into injury time, Newcastle monstered their best chance of the game after a good ball in from Jets captain Matt Thompson missed both the diving Paston and unlucky midfielder Fabio Vignaroli.

NZPA WGT cw

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