Football: Wellington Phoenix and Tasman share honours

Paul Ifill. Photo / Warren Buckland
Paul Ifill. Photo / Warren Buckland

Paul Ifill's return to the Cake Tin has seen newcomers Tasman United draw with the Wellington Phoenix U-20 side in round three of the Stirling Sports Premiership.

Tasman United, who had managed a draw with Canterbury United and a loss to Auckland City FC from their opening two games, had one of the favourite sons of the Phoenix in their line-up and went ahead in the 32nd minute through Alex Ridsdale.

The home side got back on level terms through Max Mata's header at the far post in the 66th minute and both sides walked off Westpac Stadium frustrated at the their inability to finish their chances.

Andy Hedge, the coach of the Wellington Phoenix U-20 side, described it as a topsy-turvy affair and said a draw was probably a fair result.

"We had a good period in the first half where we dominated the game," said Hedge. "They came back into it. It was a bit scrappy to start with and second half they dominated through some good substitutions. We are disappointed from the first half where we had three gilt-edged chances that we have to put away."

The Phoenix youngsters, who upset Team Wellington 2-1 in the Battle of the Capital last weekend, began the brighter of the two sides but could not find the back of the net.

Mata, Logan Rogerson and Matt Ridenton were in the thick of the action but could not combine to get on the scoreboard. Tasman weathered the storm before Ridsdale, a standout player up front for the visitors, scored against the run of play.

Tasman had a chance to go 2-0 shortly after half-time with Ryan Stewart finding space and only Jack Henry Sinclair to beat, but the NZ U-20 rep made a telling save to keep the home team in it.

It proved vital as Mata, the hero from last week's win got the home side back level. Tasman came home the stronger of the two teams but could not finish to secure their first win of the season.

"In the second half with the chances we have create, I think we can feel very aggrieved that we haven't gone away from today with three points," said Richard Anderson, the head coach of Tasman United.

"One of the things that we have got with the players in our squad is if the momentum has gone against us, they will battle and fight to get back onto parity. The Phoenix are aspiring A-League players and their age is irrelevant. This result shows that they are going to be hard to beat this year."

Round Three of the Stirling Sports Premiership continues tomorrow with four games. Hawkes Bay United host defending champions Team Wellington, Waitakere United meet Southern United, Hamilton Wanderers play Eastern Suburbs and Auckland City FC will look to continue their hot form at home to Canterbury United.

Final Result:

Wellington Phoenix U-20 1 (Max Mata 66')
Tasman United 1 (Alex Ridsdale 33')
HT 0-1

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