Soccer: Phoenix open Indian tour with win

Paul Ifill opened the scoring in the 34th minute for the Phoenix. Photo / Getty Images
Paul Ifill opened the scoring in the 34th minute for the Phoenix. Photo / Getty Images

The Wellington Phoenix opened their Indian tour with a 3-0 defeat of URO United Sikkim in difficult conditions at Impahl last night (NZT) and, almost as importantly, got through the game injury-free.

The Phoenix should have won by more but failed to capitalise on nine scoring opportunities, thanks in part to come fine goalkeeping by Yoon Tae, before Paul Ifill opened the scoring in the 34th minute.

Tyler Boyd, starting alongside Ifill up front, added a second just before halftime with a superb volley that flew into the top corner and Louis Fenton scored a third late when he headed in after Michael Boxall had nodded a corner back across goal.

It was fortunate the game even went ahead because doubt was cast on the state of the ground 24 hours before kickoff when Phoenix coach Ricki Herbert saw the baked and rutted surface.

He insisted the pitch be heavily watered so a fire truck was brought in to soften the ground.

Coincidentally, the heavens opened early in the second half and torrential rain flooded the ground.

That, along with some substitutions, upset the Phoenix's rhythm and it was part of the reason why they didn't add their third through Fenton until late.

Herbert was pleased to get the first game of the tour under his belt and was satisfied with the way things went.

"That was what we needed," he said. "It was a level up from what we have been playing and they had plenty of pace so it was a good test for us.

"We created some good chances and our pace looked good at the top.

"It was also pleasing that six of our academy players got a run and that we got through the game injury-free."

- APNZ

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