Wellington Phoenix draw A-League Men opener after giving up early lead

Wellington Phoenix have taken a point from their opening game of A-League Men season after giving up a first half lead to draw 1-1 with Macarthur at a sodden McDonald Jones Stadium in Newcastle on Sunday.

Returning striker Gary Hooper fired the Phoenix in front when he slotted a penalty straight down the middle on 25 minutes but his ferocious spot-kick was cancelled out when Lachlan Rose equalised off a 61st minute corner.

Wellington Phoenix striker Gary Hooper opened the scoring with a first half penalty.

Cameron Spencer/Getty Images

Wellington Phoenix striker Gary Hooper opened the scoring with a first half penalty.

The Phoenix won the penalty when James Meredith clipped Reno Piscopo inside the 18-yard box.

Referee Ben Abraham initially thought the contact was made outside the box and awarded a free-kick, but the decision was overturned by the video assistant referee.

Key man Hooper and Piscopo were both handed starts after limited involvement during pre-season but Piscopo was forced off midway through the second half with an apparent ankle injury. He was seen clutching at his right ankle before limping off.

The Phoenix will be disappointed by the nature of the goal they conceded. Rose, who started up, hung off his man, Callan Elliot, and popped up with a goal at the far post.

The Phoenix had their chances to snatch a late winner but Tomislav Uskok cleared the ball off the line from an Elliot shot with 10 to go while former Phoenix goalkeeper Filip Kurto made a series of vital saves to deny David Ball and substitute Jaushua Sotirio late on.

“We both had chances,” Hooper told Sky Sport. “I thought one each was a fair result on a horrible night in the rain.”

Wellington Phoenix 1 (Gary Hooper pen-25’) Macarthur 1 (Lachlan Rose 61’)

HT: 1-0

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