You'll have to be brave to beat Team Wellington this season.
Football might trade off being the 'beautiful game', although there's a place for ugliness as well. Team Wellington's 3-1 win over Waitakere United at David Farrington Park on Sunday was seldom attractive, but always engrossing.
No matter how many fine young players are spread across the ASB Premiership, this is a competition that will eventually be won by a team of men.
"You need guys that want to win football matches and I think that's the difference between us [now] and in the past," Team Wellington coach Matt Calcott said.
"We've been to three grand finals in four years and maybe we have started to wrestle away some of the Waitak dominance a little. But we've lots of work to do and much smaller budgets than the guys up the road, so we can only do what we can do."
What Team Wellington did on Sunday was show resilience and win the physical battle. Cole Peverley and Mario Barcia were excellent in the middle of the park, allowing attacking players such as Andy Bevin and Joe Dixon to have more impact as the match wore on.
Team Wellington had the best of the first half, punctuated by defender James Musa's 44th-minute header from a corner, which gave them a deserved 1-0 lead.
Five minutes into the second spell Waitakere won the ball in midfield and striker Nathan Bowen was able to beat goalkeeper Scott Basalaj to make it 1-1. Basalaj got down well to save another Bowen effort soon after, before palming a Sean Lovemore past the post after 70 minutes.
Team Wellington were living dangerously but Musa scored again from a corner, in the 75th minute, then Connor McGlinchey crossed for Dixon to score two minutes later.
Waitakere substitute Noah Billingsley had a couple of promising moments towards the end, but Musa and fellow central defender Bill Robertson did enough to ensure the home side finished with all three points.
"It was a tough game," said Calcott.
"It would've been nice if we'd been able to play a bit more but the game didn't work out like that. Once we got the second goal we obviously got the third pretty quickly and it was good because they'll obviously be on the up in the next few weeks."
Sunday was Chris Milicich's first match in charge with Waitakere, after being appointed coach late last week. Calcott said he was a great admirer of Milicich and wasn't surprised Sunday was such a struggle.
Team Wellington now have two wins and a loss, from their three starts, while the Wellington Phoenix Reserves are still yet register a point, following Sunday's 1-0 loss to Southern United in Dunedin. The win was Southern's first of the season.
- Dominion Post