The Wellington Phoenix reserves have made it back-to-back wins in the men’s National League Championship.
The Phoenix reserves have beaten neighbours Petone FC 3-2 at Fraser Park in Lower Hutt thanks to a 95th minute match-winner from substitute Ryan Watson.
It follows the reserves’ equally dramatic win at Auckland United last Sunday.
The two sides were locked at 1-1 at halftime and Petone led 2-1 with less than a quarter of an hour remaining.
The reserves equalised mere seconds after falling behind and eventually found their breakthrough deep into stoppage time.The Phoenix reserves remain eighth on the competition ladder, but are now level on points with seventh-placed Auckland United and just a point behind sixth-placed Manurewa AFC.
Head coach Chris Greenacre made one change to the XI which started last week’s win over Auckland United, with first team squad member Fin Conchie replacing Charlie Beale in midfield.
Conchie’s first team teammate Oskar van Hattum gave the Phoenix reserves the lead midway through the first half when he turned 25 metres out from goal and unleashed a pinpoint shot that found the bottom right corner of Petone’s goal.
Conchie was withdrawn soon after, having got through 31 minutes in his return from injury, with Beale taking his place.
The visitors levelled the scores in the 35th minute from a swift counter-attack and it remained 1-1 at halftime and well into the second half.
It took a top drawer goal from Petone substitute Ashnarvy Mustapha in the 78th minute to break the deadlock. He curled a shot into the far top corner after finding some space on the left edge of the reserves’ box.
The young Nix equalised almost immediately from the kick-off, with Daniel Makowem pouncing on a loose ball after the Petone ‘keeper Oscar Boyce was unable to hold on to Matthew Sheridan’s right-wing cross.
Both sides pushed numbers forward in search of a match-winner in the remaining 10 minutes of normal time and six minutes of stoppage time, and the Phoenix reserves eventually found the breakthrough with 94 showing on the clock.
After Alby Kelly-Heald made a sharp save to deny Petone the match-winning goal Noah Karunaratne led a quick break and slipped in fellow substitutes Watson, who calmly slotted past the visitors’ goalkeeper to secure the three points.
The Wellington Phoenix reserves will end their national league campaign against Central League champions Wellington Olympic at Martin Luckie Park next Sunday.
Wellington Phoenix reserves: 1.Alby KELLY-HEALD (gk), 3. Jackson MANUEL (2. Xuan LOKE 62nd), 4. Fergus GILLION, 5. Isaac HUGHES (c), 6. Fin CONCHIE (10. Charlie BEALE 32nd), 8. Dan MCKAY, 9. Josh TOLLERVEY (15. Daniel MAKOWEM 62nd), 11. Josh RUDLAND (18. Ryan WATSON 72nd), 12. Kaelin NGUYEN, 13. Matthew SHERIDAN, 24. Oskar VAN HATTUM (7. Noah KARUNARATNE 62nd).
Petone FC: 1. Oscar BOYCE (gk), 4. Brynn SINCLAIR, 7. Jamaya SHEARER (17. Ashnarvy MUSTAPHA 68th), 8. Amir MANDALAWI, 11. Jaga SCOTT-GREENFIELD, 12. Oliver PICKERING (9. Matthew JONES 62nd), 13. Isaac SNELL (c), 14. Luke GRINDLAY (2. Dei GATKEK 62nd), 15. Samuel WALL (21. Mick REID 74th), 20. Abdallah KHALED (6. Luca BARCLAY 68th), 24. Jack O’CONNOR.
24. Oskar VAN HATTUM (Wellington Phoenix reserves) – 24th
14. Luke GRINDLAY (Petone FC) – 35th
17. Ashnarvy MUSTAPHA (Petone FC) – 78th
15. Daniel MAKOWEM (Wellington Phoenix reserves) – 80th
18. Ryan WATSON (Wellington Phoenix reserves) – 90+5
12. Kaelin NGUYEN (Wellington Phoenix reserves) – yellow – 60th
20. Abdallah KHALED (Petone FC) – yellow – 63rd
Ryan Edwards (Petone FC) – yellow – 90th
9. Matthew JONES (Petone FC) – yellow – 90+2
5. Isaac HUGHES (Wellington Phoenix reserves) – yellow – 90+6