A-League: Ball scores as Phoenix beat Melbourne City

David Ball.
David Ball. Photo credit: Image: Photosport

Wellington's English strikers have combined to sweet effect in a 1-0 win over Melbourne City which continues the visitors' A-League hoodoo in New Zealand.

David Ball scored the 58th-minute winner off a Gary Hooper assist to decide an open affair on Saturday at Auckland's Eden Park which keeps the Phoenix ensconced in fifth place, just three points behind second-placed City.

Melbourne had plenty of chances to come away with points and make ground on leaders Sydney FC but they were wasteful in front of goal, particularly in the second half.

Nine different City players recorded shots on goal and Phoenix goalkeeper Stefan Marinoic registered seven saves compared to one from counterpart Tom Glover.

The lack of finishing meant the visitors recorded a fourth-successive loss to the Phoenix on Kiwi soil and continued their overall struggles this season on the road.

Wellington dominated possession - their 352 passes in the first half was double that of City - but they lacked the cutting edge of the visitors.

There was concern among the crowd of 15,300 when Phoenix winger Reno Piscopo limped from the field with an apparent ankle injury.

Midfielder Matti Steinmann looked to have scored his first Phoenix goal when he tapped in a Piscopo free kick on the half-hour, but VAR determined the German was offside after a long deliberation.

Impressive City centre back Rostyn Griffiths was earlier forced into a scrambling goal-line save but Wellington otherwise struggled to create chances against a deep-sitting defensive line.

Jamie Maclaren had two half-chances before the break but squandered both with uncharacteristic weak shots.

Melbourne's attack came alive early in the second spell but they conceded against the run of play when former Celtic star Hooper stormed into space down the right and delivered a pinpoint cross to the excellent Ball, whose first touch gave him a fourth goal for the season.