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Video decision hands victory to Phoenix

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 14/02/2017

The Video Assistant Referees system has had the decisive say in the Wellington Phoenix's 1-0 home win over Beijing BG in a mid-season friendly.

The understrength home side won the Capital Cup courtesy of a contentious penalty converted by Kosta Barbarouses in the 55th minute.

The Phoenix became the first A-League team to play under the VARs system, which will be introduced for the last two rounds of the competition.

Two officials were tasked with reviewing decisions throughout the game and communicating with referee Alan Milliner.

They made a profound interjection when Milliner called for assistance after Phoenix defender Dylan Fox was grabbed in the penalty box as a corner cross floated in.

After consulting the VARs and a sideline video, Australian whistler Milliner awarded the penalty.

Barbarouses struck his penalty past Liu Tianxin to ultimately decide a relatively even contest.

The Phoenix fielded a mix of first-choice and fringe players, with several changes made at halftime.

Wellington co-coach Des Buckingham gave the VARs trial a guarded thumbs up.

The system has been used "offline" in league games, with VARs reviewing decisions but unable to communicate with the referee.

"If they've made the right decision - then that's what it's all about," Buckingham said.

"You're going to see a lot less shirt-pulling and a lot more goals from set plays as a result."

Buckingham believes the game will help his side emerge from a mini-slump which is threatening their place in the A-League play-offs.

The eighth-placed Phoenix are winless in their last four games heading into Saturday's home match against Melbourne City.

"It was a good run out, it was much better than a training session.

"It gave us a chance to look at two players up front, in Hamish (Watson) and Shane (Smeltz) and I thought when we played through the middle, we looked quite dangerous."

Buckingham was also pleased to field a number of youth players, including highly-rated 16-year-old Academy player Calvin Harris.

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