Wellington Phoenix coach Ricki Herbert praised his youthful attack after his team rescued a 1-1 draw against A-League leaders Central Coast.
Teenagers Tyler Boyd and Louis Fenton impressed in starting roles, replacing the experienced Steyn Huysegems and Paul Ifill.
Injury deprived Wellington of its marquee player Ifill, while Boyd played alongside Fenton and top scorer Jeremy Brockie.
The Mariners’ blistering form this campaign is mirrored by their recent record against the New Zealanders, with six straight wins over the Phoenix.
But that run was halted at Westpac Stadium against a home team displaying a revamped, three-pronged attack.
It was a risky strategy that ultimately paid off for Herbert with Dani Sanchez’s late header earning a point.
Herbert gave his whole team plaudits for holding the pacesetters, but reserved most of his praise for the young stars.
“A few of the young boys have set a benchmark for this club and I’m really pleased,” he said.
“Defensively Central Coast are probably the best team in the league and a couple of their defenders are the best in the competition.
“So Josh Rose and (Pedj) Bojic had a torrid time against two young boys from Wellington, which is hugely promising.
“I’m not sure we’ve had that kind of pressure before against such a good side before.”
Herbert extended praise for Boyd, the 17-year-old from the North Island coastal resort of Tauranga.
“He’s got all the attributes and we need to look after him. I think he really put his hand up tonight. He crept up but at the end of the day he’s given everything and that’s all we can ask for,” he said.
Wellington play Melbourne Heart at home on Thursday.