Wellington Phoenix have held on to claim a 2-1 win over Perth Glory in their A-League clash at Sydney's Bankwest Stadium.
After goals to Gary Hooper and Ulises Davila gave the NZ side a 2-0 advantage, the Glory swung the momentum to dominate the final 40 minutes.
While they pulled back one goal through Dane Ingham, the West Australians were ultimately unable to find an equaliser, as the Phoenix clung precariously to a lead in the face of relentless Glory raids on goal.
The win was far from convincing, but the Phoenix certainly won't complain, showing plenty of mettle to move within a point of second-placed Melbourne City on the A-League ladder.
Promising All Whites forward Callum McCowatt was a revelation for the Phoenix, David Ball also impressed and Te Atawhai Hudson-Wihongi played a crucial hand in their final lengthy defensive stand.
Both teams made a tentative start to the match, feeling each other with long, but harmless periods of possession.
Perth were the first to take the initiative, adopting a more aggressive approach by pressing high into Phoenix territory.
The tactic ultimately paved the way for Wellington to take the lead in the 32nd minute, when outstanding youngster McCowatt won a turnover and floated a pinpoint long pass to the feet of Hooper, who used his body expertly to hold off his defender and calmly slot home for the lead.
The Glory ramped up the intensity in search of an equaliser, dominating possession and territory for the remainder of the half.
Entering the second stanza, that trend was quickly bucked. After a couple of encouraging attacking raids, Ball made a clever jaunt from the edge of the box and was brought down blatantly by Glory defender Jacob Tratt, who had no complaints when the referee pointed to the penalty spot.
Super-sub Davila stepped up to shoot low and left to extend the Phoenix advantage to 2-0 in the 48th minute.
But the Glory refused to lie down and regained the momentum, courtesy of a beautiful long-range goal from Ingham.
The All Whites international curled a shot past the outstretched arms of Phoenix keeper and NZ teammate Stefan Marinovic to close the gap in the 62nd minute.
Able to establish their ascendency in midfield, Perth finished the much stronger side, but were unable to level the scores, dropping their first of three match-ups for the season against the Wellingtonians.
Wellington Phoenix 2 (Hooper 32', Davila 48') Perth Glory 1 (Ingham 62')
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