Magpies outclass brave Phoenix

Newcastle United will leave New Zealand with a perfect record after they defeated Wellington Phoenix 1-0 to wrap up a successful Football United Tour.

Having dispatched Sydney FC 4-0 earlier in the week the English Premier League side were made to work hard for their win at Westpac Stadium which came courtesy of a Yoan Gouffran goal in the first half.

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.

New 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 crowd to life after their more muted involvement in the earlier match between Sydney FC and West Ham, which the Sky Blues won 3-1.

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 these games against West Ham and Newcastle, was working well down the left flank and he fired a superb cross into the box for Jeremy Brockie. But the striker was judged to be offside as his header came back off the post.

After his impressive debut against West Ham earlier in the week, Rodriguez-Gorrin continued his good form in the midfield but couldn’t quite 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.

Louis Fenton’s heavy touch in the box also snuffed out another opportunity.

Both sides turned to their benches as the toll of two games in the space of four days started to take its toll.

Perez had a chance to put the game beyond doubt for the Magpies but blasted over after good work by Rolando Aarons in the build-up.

The Phoenix pressed hard for an equaliser right to the end all to no avail.

There were poignant moments of remembrance for Newcastle fans Liam Sweeney and John Alder prior to the game and again in the 29th and 64th minutes when the crowd broke into applause in tribute.

Wellington Phoenix 0  Newcastle 1 (Gouffran 41). HT: 1-0 Newcastle

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