Phoenix Put Smile on Coach’s Face


Wellington Phoenix coach Ernie Merrick had a smile on his face on Thursday night as he watched his players, young and experienced alike, transfer what they do on the training field into a match situation in beating Petone 6-1.

Despite starting the game with only five senior players on the field the Phoenix over-ran the Central League side, but it was the way they did it that pleased their coach.

“Considering it was our second game within 48 hours it was very pleasing,” Merrick said.

“It was good to get on a nice surface and I thought we played the ball around really well.

“We-ve got a bit of a thing going at training about getting into goal-scoring positions so to score six was pleasing.

“But despite scoring six we also defended well, so it was a good all-round game.

“We put into practice what we have been working on in training which is always pleasing.

“A lot of work has gone into playing the ball quickly and looking to receive return passes; just feeling confident in retaining possession of the ball.

“It was satisfying to see us doing it in a game and also good to see the youngsters doing it well.

“They (youngsters) are not only playing for Phoenix contracts, but also for places in the Football School of Excellence.

“It is a work in progress and I want to see more and more young players coming through.”

It took only a minute for the Phoenix to hit their straps with trialist Hamish Watson making a strong run down the left and squaring the ball for Stein Huysegems to knock home.

Ten minutes later another trialist, Te Atawhai Hudson-Wihongi, burst down the left flank and crossed for Huysegems to make it 2-0 with a one-touch finish.

On 26 minutes yet another young trialist, Alex Rufer, made it 3-0 from close range after his first shot was saved.

Early in the second half Cameron Lindsay scored the Phoenix fourth goal after good work by trialist Clayton Lewis and Manny Muscat.

Huysegems completed his second hat-trick of pre-season from the penalty spot and then made it 6-0 with a painful header as he clashed heads with a defender.

The Belgian international has now scored 10 goals in four games including two hat-tricks.

Petone got a consolation goal through Shaun Clark in the closing minutes that helped send the good-sized crowd home in a good mood.

Join Ernie and join the Club by belonging with a 2013/14 Membership today. Visit the Wellington Phoenix Membership page for details.