Soccer: Herbert keeps talent of Totori in reserve

By Terry Maddaford

Benjamin Totori. Photo / Getty Images
Benjamin Totori. Photo / Getty Images

Phoenix coach Ricki Herbert is not tempted to press Solomon Islands striker Benjamin Totori into the starting line-up for tonight's A-League clash with defending champions Brisbane Roar at Suncorp Stadium.

Totori has impressed in his 10 appearances off the bench this season but Herbert is resisting any suggestion that he should be in the starting line-up.

Herbert feels Totori is at his dangerous best when running at tiring defences, something he will do again tonight.

Of the Phoenix starters, Manny Muscat has had the most game time, playing 1170 minutes over the 13 games while Louis Fenton, Tyler Boyd and Alex Smith have all played at least a part of every game.

But for all Herbert's consistency in selection, he is well aware tonight's game is one for the odds given his team has won only twice in 16 clashes with five drawn.

The Phoenix rounded off their preparation with a good workout in Brisbane yesterday before Herbert named an unchanged line-up with Griffin McMaster, Smith, Totori and Stein Huysegems again on the bench.

While the Phoenix have often been seen as one of the most aggressive teams in the league, they go into the round 14 game with the best disciplinary record, sharing that honour with the Roar. Both have had 26 yellow and one red card.

Again the Phoenix will play under a rookie referee with Tim McGilchrist to take control of the match which is crucial to both teams.

Depending on other results in the round, which finishes with three games today, the Phoenix could, with a win, move up a place to fifth while the Roar - two points back from the Phoenix in eighth place - could leap-frog Wellington into the top six.

Newcastle Jets, away to Melbourne Heart in today's early game, know that a win would keep them ahead of the Phoenix.

Herbert, not surprisingly, is more interested in performance than points looking for a repeat of the 80-odd minutes they dominated in coming from 0-2 to beat the Melbourne Heart 3-2 on Thursday.

Phoenix: Mark Paston, Leo Bertos, Ben Sigmund, Andrew Durante, Tony Lochhead, Manny Muscat, Vince Lia, Dani Sanchez, Tyler Boyd, Jeremy Brockie, Louis Fenton.

A-League action

Brisbane v Wellington
Suncorp Stadium
Tonight 10.30 (live SS1).

- NZ Herald

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