The Wellington Phoenix reserves have bounced back from successive defeats to pick up their fourth point of the 2023 women’s National League Championship.
The Phoenix reserves have drawn 2-2 with Kate Sheppard Cup champions Western Springs in their fourth round match at Seddon Fields in Auckland, thanks to top drawer goals from Grace Bartlett and Zoe McMeeken.
McMeeken was one of four first team squad members reserves head coach Katie Barrott was able to call on for the road trip, with Kelli Brown, Michaela Robertson and Daisy Brazendale also coming into the starting XI.
Barrott made five changes in total to the side which started last week’s defeat to Eastern Suburbs, with Alyssa Eglinton promoted to the XI with the first team players.
After a cagey opening 25 minutes, Bartlett picked out the top corner of Springs’ goal when the 16-year-old was given a bit of space on the edge of their box.
It looked like the young Nix would lead at halftime, but Western Springs fullback Arisa Takeda had other ideas. Takeda equalised with an audacious volley from 30 odd metres out, catching Charlotte Eagle off her line. Eagle did well to get a glove to the shot, but was unable to push it over the bar.
McMeeken restored the Phoenix reserves’ advantage three minutes into the second half with a goal of the season contender. The New Zealand U-20 international cut in from left fullback and unleashed a thunderous long-range shot that sailed into the far top corner of Springs’ goal.
The reserves looked to be on their way to a famous victory until the 74th minute when Western Springs equalised from a heavily deflected strike that wrongfooted Eagle and looped into the back of the net.
Eglinton came closest to winning the match for the young Nix eight minutes from fulltime, rattling the crossbar with an in swinging corner that had beaten the Springs’ ‘keeper.
The Wellington Phoenix reserves will return to Fraser Park next Saturday afternoon to host local rivals Wellington United.
Wellington Phoenix reserves: 22. Charlotte EAGLE (gk), 2. Rebekah TREWHITT, 4. Marie GREEN, 5. Zoe MCMEEKEN, 11. Kelli BROWN, 12. Ella MCMILLAN (c), 13. Grace BARTLETT (9. Ella MCCANN 77th), 14. Alyssa EGLINTON, 16. Daisy BRAZENDALE, 17. Georgie FURNELL (40. Sienna CANDY 64th), 18. Michaela ROBERTSON (31. Phoebe HAWES 64th).
Unused substitutes: 24. Libby MCMILLAN, 25. Mackenzie GREENE.
Western Springs: 21. Angelique TUISAMOA(gk), 4. Lily JERVIS (c), 6. Jaedeci ULUVILI, 7. Lily TAITIMU, 8. Celia MAYO, 10. Sofia GARCIA, 12. Ela JEREZ, 14. Jess INNES, 16. Arisa TAKEDA, 17. Megan LEE (22. Maia LYTHE 46th), 25. Lara COLPI.
Unused substitutes: 1. Mickey MITCHELL (gk), 18. Rhee MORRISON, 36. Charli DUNN, 47. Cleo CARMICHAEL.
13. Grace BARTLETT (Wellington Phoenix reserves) – 29th
16. Arisa TAKEDA (Western Springs) – 43rd
5. Zoe MCMEEKEN (Wellington Phoenix reserves) – 48th
12. Ela JEREZ (Western Springs) – 74th