Rufer Shines In Phoenix Draw

Rufer, along with another 18-year-old in Matt Ridenton, ran the show in the first half after the Phoenix opened the scoring in the second minute through Jason Hicks.

Teenager Alex Rufer came of age with a fine performance as the Wellington Phoenix drew 1-1 with a fired-up Sydney United on Tuesday night.

Rufer, along with another 18-year-old in Matt Ridenton, ran the show in  the first half after the Phoenix opened the scoring in the second minute through Jason Hicks.

The second half was a little disjointed as some Phoenix players, who have not had a lot of game time recently, tired and lost the initiative.

In the 63rd minute Theo Kofinas equalised for the New South Wales State League side with a glancing header to earn his side a draw.

The Phoenix played some nice football in the first half with Rufer showing lovely vision in his passing.

Assistant coach Chris Greenacre was pleased with the way his side played in those first 45 minutes.

“We played some good stuff in that first half and created a lot of chances,” Greenacre said.

“It was good that boys who haven’t had much game time were able to get 90 minutes under their belt.

“We made a couple of changes in the second half which stopped our momentum a bit.

“It was particular pleasing to see Alex Rufer play the way he did.

“At times he plays beyond his years. He was coming off the back of an illness and an overseas tour with the under-20 New Zealand side.

“He showed tonight what a good player he is. He was good on the ball and showed real vision.

“Once we get him fully fit and playing 90 minutes we’ll have a hell of a player on our hands.”

Greenacre said those who played against the feisty Sydney United were all pushing for a place in the starting line-up and that would stand the club in good stead when the A-League kicks off next month.

The Phoenix complete their Australian visit against Sydney FC in Wollongong on Friday.