26 July 2014 08:58
Newcastle United will leave New Zealand with a perfect record after downing Wellington Phoenix 1-0 to wrap up the Football United Tour.
Having dispatched of Sydney FC 4-0 earlier in the week, the Premier League side were made to work hard for their win at Westpac Stadium which came courtesy of a first-half goal to Yoan Gouffran.
But having beaten West Ham 2-1 on Wednesday night, and restricting a slick Newcastle side to just one goal, the Phoenix can be happy with their week’s work.
Wellington signings Alejandro Rodriguez-Gorrin and Nathan Burns have settled in well. Rodriguez-Gorrin, in particular, has formed an excellent understanding with fellow Spaniard Albert Riera in the midfield in just a few short weeks.
Tom Doyle also did his chances of securing a full-time contract from Phoenix coach Ernie Merrick no harm either after another solid effort at left-back.
The second match of the double-header was an entertaining one with chances at both ends bringing the 30,968-strong crowd to life.
The Phoenix took the game to their more illustrious opponents from the start with Tyler Boyd finding the side netting early after Siem de Jong’s long-range effort had just skimmed the crossbar for Newcastle.
Doyle, who was playing local club football prior to the pre-season tournament, was working well down the left flank and he fired a superb cross into the box for Jeremy Brockie, who was flagged for offside.
After his impressive debut against West Ham earlier in the week, Rodriguez-Gorrin continued his good form in the midfield but could not find his touch in front of goal.
De Jong, who missed training with a bruised toe on Friday, was replaced by Ayoze Perez after just 33 minutes and the Spaniard was quickly into his work.
Newcastle won a series of corners but keeper Glen Moss tipped Gouffran’s shot over and then denied Perez.
The breakthrough for the Magpies eventually came in the 41st minute when Newcastle changed their corner routine. Instead of Jack Colback firing it in to the back post he played it short to Vurnon Anita whose cross found Gouffran and the French striker’s looping header beat Moss.
Colback could have doubled Newcastle’s lead a minute before the break when Perez laid on the perfect ball only for the midfielder’s fierce shot to be blocked by Phoenix skipper Andrew Durante.
The Phoenix had several chances to equalise in the second half, but Brockie could find no way past Newcastle keeper Rob Elliott.
In the 56th minute the Phoenix striker’s low shot was pushed behind for a corner, then in the 63rd minute Elliott made a great block to deny him again.
The Phoenix continued to press hard for an equaliser, to no avail.