Phoenix U-20 leave Christchurch empty-handed

Despite scoring the opener through Ruairi Cahill-Fleury, a nine-man Wellington Phoenix U-20 conceded three unanswered second half goals in Sunday’s Stirling Sports Premiership match against Canterbury United at English Park.

The home side had the first real opportunity of the match from a set piece after Wilson was brought down just outside the penalty area, but they couldn’t capitalise on the opportunity.

Seven minutes later Wellington Phoenix U-20 found themselves with a promising opportunity from a free-kick of their own. The ball was delivered well and the resulting header just failed to hit the target.

Following a number of impressive performances so far this season, goalkeeper Keegan Smith was called into action on 19 minutes and did well to recover and deny Matt Wiesenfarth.  

Andy Hedge’s men opened the scoring with just over 15 minutes remaining in the half as some attractive play in the final third resulted in a cross that was convincingly converted with a header by Cahill-Fleury.

The match took an interesting turn 12 minutes from the break when Nix U-20  went down to 10-men after Jack-Henry Sinclair saw red for a challenge which was deemed to have denied a goal scoring opportunity by the referee.

Not long after, the advantage from having an extra man paid dividends for the home side who equalised when Tom Schwarz managed to get on the end of a Stephen Hoyle cross.

An ultimately even and physical tussle saw the teams go into the interval level.

As the second half progressed, young shotstopper Smith was called into action to deny Stephen Hoyle on more than one occasion.

Willy Gerdsen’s side continued to assert themselves in the match, but would be forced to make an unexpected change when Andreas Wilson was unable to continue after receiving a blow to the head following a powerful Wellington Phoenix U-20 free-kick.

Canterbury’s spell of dominance would ultimately see them take the advantage as the referee decided to award them a penalty when Smith felled Gary Ogilvie. Clapham converted to give his side the lead with 25 minutes remaining.

Wellington Phoenix U-20 were reduced to 9-men following a confrontation between Ogilvie and Smith after the penalty was taken, which saw the Nix keeper receive his second yellow card of the match.

The icing on the cake for Canterbury came in the 72nd and 84th minutes respectively as Hoyle capitalised and sealed his brace.

The young Nix will now look to bounce back when they return to David Farrington Park against Auckland City next weekend.