Soccer: Biss eyes contract for A-League time

By Anendra Singh

No three points up for grabs but Hawke's Bay-born Tom Biss says the Wellington Phoenix A team will be playing for their franchise.

"When we run out there every time we're still flying our franchise's flag," the 20-year-old said last night soon after finishing training in Wellington.

His mother Jo Biss and grandmother Jenny Biss will be among the crowd at Bluewater Stadium, Napier, to support him in the friendly game against Kinectic Electrical Hawke's Bay United from 6pm today.

"My dad's [Matt] working in the mines in Australia but mum will keep feeding him with information," Biss said of his father, who watched him make his A-League debut against the Melbourne Heart in October at a pub in Perth after regular midfielder Cameron Lindsay contracted food poisoning.

Biss, an attacking centre-mid, relished playing alongside the likes of Paul Ifill, Manny Muscat and Alex Smith last Wednesday in their 3-1 loss to YoungHeart Manawatu in Palmerston North.

"When I first came to the academy I was learning by watching the pros, then I was training with them and now I'm turning into one," he said, adding he was waiting for a break in securing a professional Phoenix contract.

Biss has been following Bay United's success in the ASB Premiership and their new signings.

He lauded coach Chris Greatholder for a successful season that carries the expectation of securing a maiden playoff berth and going beyond as they sit in third place, a point behind Auckland City.

Greatholder will be pondering Sunday's vital game against Auckland here, with lanky midfielders Cole Peverley and Stephen Hindmarch splitting the task of filling the aggressive and reliable boots of captain Bill Robertson, who will be serving a suspension after collecting four yellow cards.

Striker Jarrod Smith is likely to be rested.

"We want to keep an eye on Sunday's game but we also want to come away with a win tomorrow," Greatholder said.

Phoenix A coach Jonathan Gould said the A team was playing in a similar vein to two years ago in the Challenge Cup.

The franchise's school of excellence players gained valuable experience playing against soccer-savvy teams in the premiership.

The Phoenix A downed Waitakere United 2-1 in their opening game this summer but then lost all their other remaining matches, albeit close encounters.

They went down 3-1 to Auckland City, 3-2 to Canterbury United, 3-2 to feeder side Team Wellington and 3-1 to Manawatu last Wednesday.

If the last game the Phoenix A played here is anything to go by, Gould said today's game could bring out a similar electric atmosphere to wow fans.

"The last time we played it ended in a 3-3 draw with Chris McIvor scoring a hat-trick," the ex-Scottish international goalkeeper said.

Phoenix A have invited two host players to join their bench in every game and today franchise academy players Jerome Groot and Angus Kilkolly will relish some game time.

Solomon Island winger Benjamin Totori is in the mix in the Michael Boxall-captained Phoenix A.

"Benjamin Totori provides lightning pace to our attack. We like to provide some entertainment but also give the young some experience," former Bay United coach and academy head Gould said, lauding Greatholder and his philosophy.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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