Phoenix Rising from the Ashes?

The Phoenix were so close to earning a valuable point away from home, but their inability to defend set-pieces has come back to haunt them. TV One

The agony and the ecstasy of a last minute goal

By Dave Daniel

MailkThere is nothing more satisfying than scoring a last minute goal to win a game. There is simply not enough time for your opposition to reply. It’s not like a trade me auction where the match is extended for a couple of minutes to give the other folks a chance, oh no.

Of course it can be a killer blow if you are on the receiving end. Just ask Wellington Phoenix coach Ernie Merrick, who looked absolutely crestfallen after watching Adelaide United score with almost the last kick of the game at Coopers Stadium on Saturday night. (Final score: Adelaide United 2; Wellington Phoenix 1)

Malik should have been red carded

Adelaide on attackHe said, with some justification, that Adelaide should have been a man down and that the free kick should have gone the way of the Phoenix. Osama Malik was booked in the 77th minute for taking a Pheonix player out and after doing exactly the same thing 3 minutes later was allowed to stay on the pitch.

Of course it was Malik who won the free kick from which they scored.


The defence needs shoring up

Adelaide winMerrick conceded that Adelaide was the better team but felt that his boys had done enough to secure the point and it was cruel to go down the way they did. What doesn’t kill you will make you stronger and they will learn from this.

Giving away a free kick doesn’t mean that you are going to concede a goal and it will be their defending at set pieces that will come under scrutiny as they prepare for the tussle with the Perth Glory this weekend.

A different team under Ernie Merrick

Ernie MerrickDespite the defeat there is no doubt that this year the Phoenix are a different unit and I am confident they will make the play-offs. Adelaide is a class team and could not put the Phoenix away even though Brockie, McGlinchey and Doyle were all missing.

Under Ricki Herbert’s guidance I think I would have switched off at half time through a combination of depression, boredom and fear of the inevitable. Sport should not affect you like that, but sometimes it does.

Young Rufer has great potential

Alex RuferThe future is bright. You know how you sometimes glimpse something, briefly. It lights up your day, be it an act of kindness or an amazing photograph. Young Alex Rufer came on as a substitute in the 78th minute and showed touch and awareness that belies his tender age of 17 years.

He is slim in build although he has built himself up a bit since I last saw him play at Weka Park over twelve months ago. He slipped a delightful ball through to Kenny Cunningham that was inches away from being the pass of the game and almost giving the Phoenix the lead.

He appeared comfortable on the ball and his demeanour said, this is why I belong and he will surely get more opportunities soon. He has talent to burn and if he keeps working at his game will be a fine player who will eventually leave for distant shores.

In the meantime he is here, on our doorstep and we are fortunate indeed to be able to watch him grow and develop, as there is nothing more rewarding than producing your own players.

(Alex is the son of former international player Shane Rufer and his uncle is New Zealand’s greatest ever player, Wynton Rufer.)