Match Review: Reserves punish undermanned Christchurch United

The Wellington Phoenix reserves have secured their first win of the 2022 National League Championship.

The Phoenix reserves have won 3-1 at Christchurch United, after a dominant first half performance against 10-men.

The hosts had to play the majority of the match a man down after their goalkeeper Scott Morris was sent off in just the sixth minute.

The young Nix capitalised on their numerical advantage, with Matthew Sherdian, Ben Wallace and Kaelin Nguyen all scoring goals in the next quarter of an hour.

Christchurch United cut the deficit to two in the 26th minute but there were no further goals for the remainder of the match as the Phoenix reserves ensured there would be no repeat of the following two rounds, when they relinquished leads.

Reserves head coach Chris Greenacre made five enforced change to the XI, which started last Sunday’s 1-1 draw with Melville United.

Joseph Chiari, Nguyen, Josh Rudland and Wallace were promoted to the starting line-up in place of Fin Conchie, Joshua Tollervey, Riley Bidois and Noah Karunaratne, while the impressive Adam Supyk made way for first team fullback Lucas Mauragis, who was ineligible to play against the Newcastle Jets in the A-League.

Bidois and Karunartne travelled to Newcastle with the first team in Mauragis’ absence, while Tollervey was missing after suffering a nasty head knock last week.

The hosts were down a man just a handful of minutes into the match when Morris was red carded after fouling Rudland well outside the box.

Back-up ‘keeper Edward Ashton was on the field for only a couple of minutes before he was chipped by Sheridan, who made the most of his move into the midfield by bursting forward on to the edge of the area before sizing up his shot.

Christchurch United had a great chance to equalise just moments later, but Alby Kelly-Heald denied Mika Rabuka from close-range.

The young Nix doubled their lead in the 18th minute when Wallace beat Ashton at his near post after being put through on goal by Nguyen.

Nguyen grabbed the reserves’ third midway through the first half, nodding an inch-perfect Mauragis cross into the back of the net.

Just 25 minutes were on the clock when Christchurch United pulled a goal back, with Rabuka expertly picking out the top left corner of Kelly-Heald’s goal after finding some space on the edge of the area.

The Phoenix reserves had a number of opportunities to restore their three goal advantage before halftime, but were unable to beat Ashton in the next 20 minutes.

Rudland had the best of the chances and was denied by Ashton three times in quick succession seven minutes from the break.

There were few memorable moments in the second half, with the young Nix limiting Christchurch United’s opportunities to ensure they claimed all three points and moved into the top half of the table.

The Wellington Phoenix reserves return home next weekend to host Central League rivals Miramar Rangers at Fraser Park in Lower Hutt.

Wellington Phoenix reserves
: 1. Alby KELLY-HEALD (gk), 2. Joseph CHIARI, 4. Lukas KELLY-HEALD, 5. Isaac HUGHES (c), 6. Dan MCKAY, 9. Josh RUDLAND (17. Sebastian BARTON-GINGER 61st), 10. Charlie BEALE, 11. Kaelin NGUYEN, 12. Lucas MAURAGIS, 13. Matthew SHERIDAN (15. Riley MANUEL 80th), 18. Ben WALLACE (16. Fergus GILLON 88th).
Unused substitutes: 20. Callum KENNETT (gk), 3. Adam SUPYK,.

Christchurch United: 1. Scott MORRIS (gk), 2. Jordan SPAIN, 5. Riley GROVER, 10. Edward WILKINSON, 12. Joe HOOLE (13. Edward ASHTON (gk) 8th), 15. William PIERCE, 16. Mika RABUKA (17. Joel PETERSON 62nd), 21. Noah BILLINGSLEY (9. Daniel MACLENNAN 62nd), 22. Matt TODD-SMITH (c) (3. Sho MATHIESON 80th), 23. Benjamin LAPSLIE, 40. Noa PRESTEL.
Unused substitutes: 8. Paul IFILL.

13. Matthew SHERIDAN (Wellington Phoenix reserves) – 10th
18. Ben WALLACE (Wellington Phoenix reserves) – 18th
11. Kaelin NGUYEN (Wellington Phoenix reserves) – 22nd
16. Mika RABUKA (Christchurch United) – 26th

1. Scott MORRIS (gk) (Christchurch United) – red – 6th
5. Isaac HUGHES (c) (Wellington Phoenix reserves) – yellow – 57th
22. Matt TODD-SMITH (c) (Christchurch United) – yellow – 57th
17. Sebastian BARTON-GINGER (Wellington Phoenix reserves) – yellow – 90th