Premier League football came to life in Wellington, New Zealand on the 26th July on a day that was jam packed like a typical 3pm back in the Toon. The city of Wellington had put on a show with a mock up strawberry pub being created that housed hundreds of Geordies before the game. Before marching to Westpac stadium in great voice.
The game was marked with a minutes silence before the Newcastle side faced the Maori Haka before the game.
Quite possibly the haka had an influence on the team as they were slow out of the blocks compared to the game against Sydney with no real pace or urgency in their play. There were few chances for either side during the first 20-30 minutes with only an injury to Siem de Jong any cause for concern for each team.
It was only in the 41st minute that Newcastle managed to take the lead through Youn Gouffran with a header after Phoenix keeper Glen Moss was caught in no man’s land.
As shown in other games the fans applaud and cheered as they marked the remembrance of Liam Sweeney and John Alder that raised the biggest applause of the night.
Phoenix matched Newcastle in most areas of the park and had a couple of great chances only to be denied by Robbie Elliot who was in excellent form.
For the last 10 minutes substitutions disrupted the game and any flow it had was lost. It was good to see the young lads. Aarons, Armstrong, Perez, Campball holding there own on the park.
It was a win nonetheless for Newcastle who leave New Zealand unbeaten with many fans, staff and players calling the trip a success.
Whether New Zealand has the market for football is yet to be proven but surely the publicity and the conduct that Newcastle has stirred up will hopefully resurrect the Phoenix and New Zealand football.
Throughout the tour Newcastle have conducted themselves in a professional manner giving plenty of time to stop and talk to fans, sign autographs and take photos.
Let’s hope Newcastle don’t listen to the view of Louis Van Gaal and make another trip to New Zealand in the near future.
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