Two fine strikes from Roly Bonevacia, a well-taken goal by Blake Powell and a penalty save by Lewis Italiano carried Wellington to a 3-1 A-League pre-season win over Western Sydney on Sunday night at Pirtek Stadium.
Phoenix coach Ernie Merrick was delighted with his team's performance, especially with players still to come back from injuries and goalkeeper Glen Moss jarring his neck in the warm-up. Italiano stepped in and performed well.
"It was a very good performance," Merrick said.
"It was disappointing to lose another first-team player in the warm-up but Glen's injury is temporary and, hopefully, we will have him back for the Sydney game, but I was really impressed with the way the backline performed.
"Vince Lia slotted in between the two centre-backs when needed and they were rock solid the whole game.
"Lewis did well to save the penalty and the midfield was outstanding.
"Up front, it was good to see Kwabena (Appiah) having a good run alongside Roy (Krishna) and Michael McGlinchey was setting them up left, right and centre.
"Then there was Roly's two strikes which were outstanding, especially the first one.
"It is good that it is coming together well ..."
The Phoenix went on the attack from the outset, knocking the ball around confidently and took the lead after eight minutes when Bonevacia produced a wonderful strike that flew into the top corner of the net from 22 metres.
Seven minutes later, Bonevacia made space for himself just inside the penalty area and drove a low shot into the corner giving Wanderers goalkeeper Dean Bouzanis no chance.
Only 11 minutes into the second half, the Wanderers were given a penalty for handball but Italiano dived low to his left to save Federico Piovaccari's spot kick.
Mitch Nichols pulled a goal back in the 70th minute when the Phoenix gave the ball away but Powell restored the visitors' two-goal margin by pouncing on some sloppy defending and scoring.
The Phoenix play NSW Premier League side Apia on Tuesday and Merrick intends to give young Academy players their chance to impress.
"I will save those who played tonight for the game against Sydney FC on Friday," he said.