The Junior All Whites will depart for the FIFA U-20 football World Cup in Colombia with some confidence after competitive showing in a 2-1 injury time loss to the Wellington Phoenix at North Harbour Stadium.
After a goalless first half the Junior All Whites took a 52nd minute lead as Dakota Lucas battled hard to get past All Whites defender Ben Sigmund then beat Michael O'Keefe to the loose ball and laid the ball into the path of Sean Lovemore for an easy side foot finish.
The Phoenix regained parity nine minutes later when Paul Ifill got round the back of the New Zealand defence and flicked the ball back for James Downey on the top of the box.
Under pressure from a New Zealand defender, Downey stretched to reach the pass and sent the ball sailing past substitute goalkeeper Coey Turipa.
The Colombia-bound age group side looked set to claim a deserved draw until Phoenix Spanish trialist Dani Sanchez collected an uncleared Paul Ifill cross in the third minute of injury time and rounded Turipa to slot the winner.
With just two weeks before the Junior All Whites open their World Cup against Cameroon, their coach Chris Milicich was happy with the run out against a Phoenix side building for the start of the A-League in October.
The Junior All Whites travel via the USA where they take on United Soccer League sides Southern California and Ventura County before moving on to Colombia.