Search for backup keeper goes offshore

WELLINGTON Phoenix FC will look outside New Zealand for a short-term replacement for injured keeper Mark Paston.

Paston suffered badly bruised ribs after a collision with a teammate in Friday-s 6-1 loss to Adelaide United at Hindmarsh Stadium and was replaced by Glen Moss at halftime. X-rays have revealed no major damage but Paston is likely to miss the Phoenix-s next four games, necessitating the addition of a reserve keeper to the squad as cover.

Phoenix head coach Ricki Herbert said regulations governing the New Zealand domestic competition, the New Zealand Football Championship, meant the Phoenix would have to look elsewhere for a short-term backup keeper.

“We need to move into the market and we can-t go locally because of domestic rulings regarding players, so we-ll need to look overseas. We-ll identify some options with a view to having someone in Wellington and training with the team later in the week.”

The injury to Paston comes as a double blow for the Phoenix, who were comprehensively beaten by Adelaide after going into the match coming off three consecutive wins.

“It always seems to be a tough trip to Hindmarsh,” Herbert said, referring to the Phoenix-s poor record at Adelaide-s home ground.

“Friday night-s performance was particularly disappointing. We-ve looked and looked and looked at the video and it-s clear we were just a yard short all over the pitch. In the last half-a-dozen games we-ve been good allround and that-s flowed into results. But on Friday night we just didn-t do what we needed to in all areas. There were some dumb decisions made that cost us goals and in previous matches the decision-making has been markedly better.”

Despite being under the pump for much of the match, Herbert felt his men had a shot at getting something from it when Brazilian Fred scored for the Phoenix early in the second half to reduce Adelaide-s lead to 2-1.

“Adelaide certainly took the initiative but when we did get one back it was a great chance for us to stabilise things and keep things tidy. Unfortunately it only took a couple of minutes and we were 3-1 down, and that was really the catalyst for Adelaide to push on.

“We did chase the game – I wanted to try and get something from it – and we were caught out for a few more. But you can-t take it away from Adelaide – they were excellent on the night.”

The Phoenix would now put the result behind them and focus on Saturday night-s home match against Perth Glory at Westpac Stadium.

“We turn for home now with one full round to go,” Herbert said. “We-re in a good position. Some of the recent performances have been the best we-ve had since the club has been formed, so we know we can do it and that-s the belief.

“The message this week is that we need to find that good form again and that everyone needs to play a part. There are seven games left now and every step we take is important.”