The Wellington Phoenix reserves have produced arguably their best performance of the 2022 National League Championship.
The Phoenix reserves have beaten Southern League runners-up Cashmere Technical 3-1 in Christchurch.
The reserves led 2-0 after half an hour courtesy of classy goals from Phoenix midfielder Nicholas Pennington, on debut for the young Nix, and forward Ben Wallace.
Cashmere Technical pulled back a goal from the spot on the stroke of halftime before substitute Joshua Tollervey restored the reserves’ two goal advantage midway through the second-half.
The result lifts the Phoenix reserves to sixth on the ladder, above their hosts on goal difference with one round to play.
Head coach Chris Greenacre was able to call on five first-team players for the match, with goalkeeper Alex Paulsen, centre back Finn Surman, forward Oskar van Hattum and Pennington joining left back Lucas Mauragis in the starting XI.
Pennington opened the scoring in the 26th minute, when he turned at the top of the box and curled a shot around outstretched Cashmere ‘keeper Harrison Rowe.
Wallace doubled the young Nix’s advantage before the half hour mark with a goal of the season contender. He found a bit of space after the reserves won the ball in the middle of the park and then picked out the top left corner of Rowe’s goal from 30 plus metres out.
Some last-ditch defending and a sharp save from Paulsen kept Cashmere Technical scoreless until the third minute of first-half stoppage time, when Garbhan Coughlan converted a penalty after he was fouled in the box by Phoenix reserves captain Isaac Hughes.
Hughes atoned for his mistake in the 65th minute with a clever flick which found an unmarked Tollervey, who swept the ball into the net from six yards out shortly after coming off the bench.
Harrison Rowe produced a couple of spectacular saves to deny Tollervey and Noah Karunaratne from adding a fourth goal before fulltime.
The Wellington Phoenix reserves return home to Fraser Park in Lower Hutt on Sunday afternoon to play Birkenhead United in their final match of the season.
Wellington Phoenix reserves: 1. Alex PAULSEN (gk), 2. Lucas MAURAGIS, 3. Finn SURMAN (4. Lukas KELLY-HEALD 31st), 5. Isaac HUGHES (c), 6. Dan MCKAY, 7. Noah KARUNARATNE, 8. Nicholas PENNINGTON (17. Fin CONCHIE 75th), 9. Oskar VAN HATTUM (14. Joshua TOLLERVEY 63rd), 13. Matthew SHERIDAN, 16. Charlie BEALE, 18. Ben WALLACE.
Unused substitutes: 15. Adam SUPYK.
Cashmere Technical: 13. Harrison ROWE (gk), 5. Andrew STORER, 6. Tom SCHWARZ (c) (30. Sam RICHARDS 76th), 7. Jacob RICHARDS, 8. Alex BALLARD (20. James BRITTAIN 76th), 9. Aidan BARBOUR-RYAN (21. Declan TYNDALL 76th), 10. Garbhan COUGHLAN, 12. Kian DONKERS (23. Yusef VAN DAM 63rd), 15. Samuel LAPSLIE, 17. Lachie MCISSAC, 19. Lyle MATTHYSEN.
Unused substitutes: 1. Matthew FOORD (gk).
8. Nicholas PENNINGTON (Wellington Phoenix reserves) – 26th
18. Ben WALLACE (Wellington Phoenix reserves) – 29th
10. Garbhan COUGHLAN (Cashmere Technical) – 45+3 pen
14. Joshua TOLLERVEY (Wellington Phoenix reserves) – 65th
8. Nicholas PENNINGTON (Wellington Phoenix reserves) – 54th
7. Noah KARUNARATNE (Wellington Phoenix reserves) – 71st