Daniel Richardson

Daniel Richardson is a Wellington-based sports journalist for NZME. News Service.

Soccer: Huysegems proving his worth

Stein Huysegems of the Phoenix celebrates his goal against Brisbane. Photo / Getty Images
Stein Huysegems of the Phoenix celebrates his goal against Brisbane. Photo / Getty Images

Stein Huysegems seems like he is worth every penny the Phoenix have spent on him.
The Belgian striker was again on target for the Phoenix last night as his goal gave Wellington the ascendancy in their clash with the Brisbane Roar that eventually ended in a 1-1 stalemate at Westpac Stadium.

Huysegems, who came to New Zealand after various stints in the Belgian and Dutch top flights, also scored on debut for his new club when the Phoenix beat Sydney FC 2-0 in the opening round of the A-League on October 6.

Phoenix coach Ricki Herbert said the hard-working forward, who was subbed today after a busy 60-minute stint in howling winds, had proven he was a great acquisition for the club.

"Two from three,'' Herbert said as he confirmed Huysegems' goal tally.

"So, as you know, we are not in the market with million-dollar signings and I've been incredibly pleased with him. He's slipped in to the culture really well and he understands where we are heading and I think he'll get better over the next few weeks.

He came off the back of very limited football but he took his goal well today.''

In a league where some teams have opened the cheque book during the off-season - think Alessandro Del Piero heading to Sydney and Emile Heskey signing with Newcastle - Huysegems seems like a true value-for-money purchase.

The former Belgian international's smoothly-taken finish against the Roar was one of few highlights from a game that was particularly dour in the second spell as two of the sides who are heavyweights in this year's competition seemed happy to box to a draw.

Brisbane striker Besart Berisha squared the ledger just before the 40-minute mark when he took advantage of a rare lapse on defence from the Phoenix and beat the oncoming Mark Paston.

There was no way Paston was at fault for the goal and he had a busy first half between the sicks as he kept the Phoenix in the game with two sharp saves.

Paston missed both of New Zealand's internationals against Tahiti during the past eight days with a foot infection but recovered in time to take the field for the Phoenix although the same couldn't be said for skipper Andrew Durante.

The reliable Australian, who is so often the rock at the back for the Wellingtonians, was ruled out of the contest with illness, which gave off-season recruit Michael Boxall his second start in as many weeks.

Boxall's partnership with stand-in skipper Ben Sigmund was largely solid aside from their brief moment of poor judgement which let Berisha in.

The Phoenix also looked tired towards the end of the game with Sigmund, Jeremy Brockie and Tony Lochhead having logged big minutes during the past two weeks given their international commitments.

Brisbane coach Rado Vidosic said he was more than happy to travel to Wellington and claim a point considering how tough other sides in the league find it at Westpac Stadium.

"You just can't prepare for Wellington unfortunately,'' Vidosic said.

"There's no area in Australia where it's so windy and it's so cold. And the grass is different and probably that's why they force us to wash our boots before we go back to Australia so we don't take this sticky grass with us. But, no I'm very, very happy.''

The draw means the Phoenix remain unbeaten after three weeks of the A-League but they face a tricky trip to Adelaide next weekend to meet a Reds side who have won two of their opening three games.

- APNZ

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