Wellington Phoenix captain Andrew Durante has hailed facing West Ham United an 'incredible experience'.

While Wednesday's 2-1 defeat by Wellington Phoenix was not the ideal result for the Hammers, the whole of New Zealand has fallen in love with the A-League side.

Eden Park was awash with noise and colour throughout the game, while the match made front-page news in the country's newspapers on Thursday morning.

On boarding their flight back to Wellington - alongside a number of Hammers staff members - the pilot congratulated the Phoenix squad on their success, producing a spontaneous round of applause throughout the cabin.

The result might not have gone West Ham's way, but Phoenix captain and goalscorer Durante said his team's win would do great things for the sport in New Zealand.

"It was an incredible experience," confirmed the defender, who opened the scoring with a well-directed near-post header. "Coming up against a high-quality Premier League team is not something that happens every day for us.

"To have you guys come and visit New Zealand and turn out like that was great for us, and for us to get the win was a little bit extra special. The whole experience has been great.

"As you can see from the hype in New Zealand, everyone is buzzing about the result. I did a TV interview on Thursday morning and everybody is talking about it. It's really big news in New Zealand and it's great for football in New Zealand.

"You guys coming is a great thing, but to turn you over was special. It will probably rank up there as one of the highlights of New Zealand football."

Just being part of the Football United Tour and playing against West Ham and Newcastle United, who they face at their Westpac Stadium home on Saturday afternoon, has given Durante and his team-mates a massive boost.

Having finished second-bottom of the A-League last season, the New Zealand international centre-back said victory over the Hammers would give them confidence heading into the 2014/15 campaign.

"It's been an incredible, almost once-in-a-lifetime experience to come up against these guys. We watch West Ham and the other Premier League teams week-in, week-out and it's great to experience it.

"We've got a lot of young players who were playing local football just a couple of years ago and now they've come up against some big players, so it's been great."

Finally, a broad smile broke out across Durante's face when asked about his goal, which set the base for the Phoenix' historic victory.

"I made a near-post run and the delivery was pinpoint, I got in front of the defender and glanced it in. It was a great feeling and it got the ball rolling."