Soccer: Moss and Paston set for another duel

By Daniel Richardson

Mark Paston is likely to start the season for the Phoenix when they begin their A-League campaign against Sydney FC in Wellington on Saturday night. Photo / Getty Images.
Mark Paston is likely to start the season for the Phoenix when they begin their A-League campaign against Sydney FC in Wellington on Saturday night. Photo / Getty Images.

If you were hoping to read about how Mark Paston and Glen Moss were locked in a bitter rivalry to claim the starting goalkeeper's role at the Wellington Phoenix, the following might disappoint.

It turns out they're good mates; which is probably for the best, given how often they've been in the same squads over the years with one player being forced to sit on the bench.

Since 2005, when Moss was first called in to the All Whites, the pair have been locked in an intriguing duel in the national side and they also battled for the top spot at the Phoenix from 2007-2009 when Moss enjoyed his first stint in Wellington and won a majority of the starts.

During the past three years, however, Moss bounced around the A-League with spells at the Melbourne Victory and the now-defunct Gold Coast United but he has arrived back in the capital on a three-year contract, which will see another chapter penned in the Paston and Moss partnership.

The pair seem to follow each other around and they were even both born in Hastings, albeit six years apart.

"We get along really well, actually," Paston smiled. "I think some of the media would quite like it if we hated each other's guts. It'd make it a better story. But we get along well. I think we both understand what the script is and only one of us can play, so it's a bit sad in a way but that's football."

It appears Moss has recited the same lines.

"There's no real rivalry to be honest," Moss said. "We've known each other for going on 10 years now so we're good mates and we just enjoy training with each other and, at the end of the day, Ricki [Herbert's] going to pick whoever plays so that's up to him."

Phoenix and All Whites' coach Herbert has had to choose between the two for the past seven years in some capacity and, while Moss was preferred at the Phoenix a few years ago, the pair have split time for the national side depending on injury and suspension.

Moss suffered a nasty injury in December when he tore the adductor muscle off the bone in his leg, which has given Paston an opening during the past 10 months for the national side and he is currently the first-choice custodian.

Paston is also likely to start the season for the Phoenix when they begin their A-League campaign against Sydney FC in Wellington on Saturday night.

"I feel like I'm in good form and have been for the last year," Paston said. "So touch wood and my body holds together and it stays that way."

That's often the concern with Paston. His injury list is lengthy and, at 35, it remains to be seen how many more good years he has left, but for now he seems happy to work alongside 29-year-old Moss.

Whether he starts this week or not, Moss said he was just pleased to be back in Wellington with the security of a long-term contract.

"My time away made me realise how much I missed it here and being with the guys and what a good group it is and also the club as well. I had a few problems at the Gold Coast with the club there and obviously it's folded and gone under, so just to be at a stable, secure, enjoyable club was the most important thing for me."

The Wellington glove affair

Mark Paston

Age: 35

Born: Hastings

A-League caps: 62

All Whites caps: 34 (13 clean sheets)

Former clubs: New Zealand Knights, St Johnstone, Walsall, Bradford City

Glen Moss

Age: 29

Born: Hastings

A-League caps: 97

All Whites caps: 19 (3 clean sheets)

Former clubs: Gold Coast United, Melbourne Victory, Dinamo Bucharest F.C., New Zealand Knights

- APNZ

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