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Sky Blues depth delivers late win

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 23/10/2016 Cathy Walshe
Matthew Ridenton and Michael McGlinchey of the Phoenix show their disappointment after a Sydnet FC goal © Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images Matthew Ridenton and Michael McGlinchey of the Phoenix show their disappointment after a Sydnet FC goal

Squad depth proved crucial for Sydney FC in their last-gasp 1-0 win over Wellington Phoenix on Sunday, coach Graham Arnold says.

After collecting 4-0 wins from their first two matches of the A-League season, Sydney had to work hard against a much more tenacious Wellington outfit at Westpac Stadium.

After surviving a particularly demanding first half, Sydney's tenacity was rewarded in the 92nd minute when Milos Ninkovic slotted home Matt Simon's header.

Simon was one of two key second-half substitutions, coming on in the 71st minute for Brazilian striker Bobo, who had been largely anonymous for most of the game.

Arnold's other change had come 10 minutes earlier, when he pulled Filip Holosko to bring on skipper Alex Brosque.

Between them, Bobo and Holosko had scored five goals in two matches, but rarely managed to threaten Wellington's well-organised back four.

Arnold said the quality of his bench, and the depth of his squad, meant there was constant competition for a place in the starting 11.

"We spoke in the first week of the season about having competition for places, having a healthy environment and players pushing each other," he said.

"My message to the players is whoever performs, plays."

Brosque's return from hamstring surgery has been carefully managed, with the 32 minutes he played against Wellington his longest A-League stint since February.

Arnold is pleased with the impact the 147-match Sky Blues veteran has been making.

"I've got the captain coming off the bench after 60 minutes and he's turning games when he's doing that," he said.

"When teams are fatiguing, Brosque and Matty Simon are putting more and more pressure on the opposition.

"It's working well at the moment, but it is early days."

Sydney face a tricky away assignment next week to Newcastle, who scored twice in the last 10 minutes to draw 2-2 with Western Sydney Wanderers on Sunday, and have two draws and a win from their three starts to date.

"Next week we've got the Jets, and I said to the boys 'Well done, you showed resilience, you showed character, but we need to perform better'."

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