Team Wellington have recorded an important win in their local derby with the Wellington Phoenix Reserves to keep alive their chances of hosting a semi-final in the ISPS Handa Premiership.
The Jose Figueira-coached team, who defeated Hawke’s Bay United 6-3 on the weekend, backed that up on Waitangi Day with a clinical and professional performance at David Farrington Park for their eighth win of the campaign.
With the victory, the two-time champions move to within three points of Eastern Suburbs (31 points) and 11 points behind defending champions Auckland City who have a game in hand. Team Wellington (28 points) are now four points clear of the fourth-placed Canterbury United Dragons.
Figueira knows with four games remaining, and also the OFC Champions League coming up (10 February – 12 May) where they are defending champions, every point counts at the business end of the ISPS Handa Premiership.
“It was an important game today with the midweek catch-up game, we always knew that it was going to be a hard week,” said Figueira. “We played Hawke’s Bay away last weekend on a big pitch in really tough conditions so to come through today with a 3-0 win sets things up nicely for this weekend.”
Figueira is referring to the all-important second versus third clash with the Lily Whites this weekend on their home turf. With Auckland City runaway leaders, that game will be decisive in the race for second place.
But that is all to come, tonight Figueira and his team can reflect on a job well done against Paul Temple’s Wellington Phoenix Reserves.
Nathanael Hailemariam came on as an early first-half substitute for Liam Wood (knee) and made an immediate impact when he scored eight minutes later. Captain Andy Bevin was played into space down the left-flank and he cut it back to find Hailemariam who finished well to open the scoring.
Team Wellington took a 1-0 lead into the break and they doubled their advantage through Jack-Henry Sinclair who was well set-up by Aaron Clapham and did not hesitate with a first-time finish.
The win was completed and finished in style by Eric Molloy. The Irishman came off the bench in the 61st minute and made a difference. He produced a stunning goal with 10 minutes to play and celebrated with his trademark backflip.
Figueira paid tribute to former All Whites midfielder Clapham who has settled into the squad and is looking to make a big impact in the coming weeks.
“He is really starting to hit his strides now and integrate himself into the squad. The only thing that was missing for him was finding the back of the net which he did twice on the weekend and he has also shown his qualities to assist which he did today.”
ISPS Handa Premiership Match Week 15 Result
Team Wellington 3 (Nathanael Hailemariam 19’, Jack-Henry Sinclair 60’, Eric Molloy 80’)Wellington Phoenix Reserves 0HT: 1-0
Article added: Wednesday 06 February 2019
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