Wellington Phoenix’ young reserve side more than played their part in a pulsating local derby with ASB Premiership leaders Exodus Team Wellington before going down 4-3 at a gloriously sunny Newtown Park on Saturday evening.
At a sunny and warm Newtown Park in front of an estimated 1000 strong crowd, the Wellington Phoenix’ Premiers went down 4-3 to top of the table Exodus Team Wellington.
Twice the Phoenix led their experienced opponents but had what would have been a deserved point snatched from them 10 minutes from time when Alex Feneridis rifled home a free-kick from 23 metres to break the deadlock.
Making it even tougher for the youngsters was that the free-kick could easily have been given the other way.
Joel Stevens had given the Phoenix a fourth-minute lead but Exodus Team Wellington were level 10 minutes later with Cole Peverley scoring from the penalty spot.
Josh Brindell-South restored the Phoenix’ lead in the 38th minute with a fine left-foot shot, but two goals from Michael Gwyther early in the second spell put the league leaders 3-2 ahead.
Exodus Team Wellington had Peverley sent off for a second cautionable offence in the 55th minute and the Phoenix capitalised on their man advantage with Nathaniel Hailemariam scoring with a lovely shot on the turn.
Just when it seemed the game would end with honours shared Feneridis broke the deadlock with his well-struck free-kick that bent round the Phoenix wall.
Phoenix coach Andy Hedge was bemused at times by the spectacle but, despite being on the wrong end of the result, saw positives continue after the performance of his side in last week’s win over Auckland City.
“It was a little bit [like] we were sitting there open-jawed really,” Hedge said.
“Some of the play was sublime but also comical at times as well. [We’re] disappointed though in terms of the result.
“The performance wasn’t as good as last week but there were patches of last week so I’m not too disappointed in that sense.
“What has been pleasing is they have started to put together longer periods of decent play.
“There were some really excellent periods of play for us in the game and we carved Team Wellington open on a number of occasions.
“It’s coming together slowly.”