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Phoenix notch pre-season win over Mariners

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 17/09/2016

Hamish Watson's strike just before halftime has handed Wellington Phoenix a 1-0 win over Central Coast Mariners in a pre-season game in Sydney.

Striker Watson reacted quickest to a loose ball in the box after the Mariners failed to clear from Gui Finkler's corner, proving the difference in another solid hit-out for the Kiwi club.

It continued their encouraging buildup to the A-League season starting in three weeks, which has included a 4-1 win over Melbourne City in Townsville last week.

Coach Ernie Merrick overhauled his team in a second half which featured several good chances for both teams. Midfielders Alex Rodriguez and Kosta Barbarouses went closest to doubling the Phoenix lead.

"It was a really good hit out after a strenuous training week in the heat of Townsville and I was pleased to keep a clean sheet," Merrick said.

"I've always said that the performance is more important than the result in pre-season games, but it was nice to continue the run which has seen us unbeaten since the unlucky loss to the Wanderers in the FFA Cup."

The Phoenix and Mariners will meet again next Saturday in Nelson.

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