Canterbury United 3 vs Wellington Phoenix Reserves 2

Canterbury United hosted Wellington Phoenix Reserves in a must win match at ASB Park, with Canterbury looking at making the top 4. After giving away a 1-0 lead, Canterbury managed to grab a 3-2 victory with the winner coming from an unlikely source.

Starting Formations

Canterbury United lined up in a 433, standard to what they have done recently. Turipa in goal with Terris and Schwarz in central defence. Wilson was right back who frequently attacked while Spain on the left was more reserved. de Vries anchored the midfield with Ogilvie and Mitchell ahead of him. Hoyle spearheaded the attack and remained centrally as Nakamura and King were left and right wing respectively however interchanged often.

Wellington Phoenix Reserves were in a very fluid 4231. Smith was in goal with attacking fullbacks Phillip and Williams at right and left back. Moore partnered Cacace in central defence with Cacace roaming forwards on numerous occasions. Sutton and Singh were central/holding midfielders with Sutton holding position while Singh had license to get forward and was the teams playmaker. Rogerson hugged the touch line at right wing and Waine was on the left while through the middle they often showed a false 9, false 10 combination. With Whyte starting as a 10 but would run beyond Ebbinge who started as a 9 but would drop deep.

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WeeNix’s High Line

Wellington Phoenix Reserves (WeeNix) came and looked to play good football, as a development side I would believe they are told to prioritise this. As a small technical side, they did well at playing to their strengths, playing short corners, free kicks and playing a high line. This highline congested the pitch to where WeeNix’s could come alive with smart quick passing to evade a physical Canterbury midfield. However, this very highline did a lot of self-harm as Canterbury were able to hit the direct balls over the top. Canterbury were easily able to find either Schwarz or Ogilvie, two ball players, due to WeeNix’s extreme fluidity. With Ebbinge dropping deep into midfield it often left Schwarz time and space to hit those killer direct balls that he is capable of. While Ogilvie was able to get onto the ball at times due to Singh reluctance to track back fast enough and while Cacace who loved to roam forward, did very well, but would leave no one to fill his position which left massive gaps. While after looking the better side, they went down 1-0 after a long through ball from the Canterbury midfield found an on running Nakamura to slot home, somewhat against the run of play.

Sleeping Dragons

It was a sluggish 60 minutes for Canterbury United as they did not look like a team that wanted to win, coupled with some players having a bad day individually. Hoyle was more static than in previous games where he roamed left and right causing problems within the channels.  Perhaps he was made to take advantage of the direct balls or punish a roaming Cacace, however when he did exploit Canterbury’s direct balls he lacked the pace or deadly touch on the day to make it count.  Passing was off all around the park and it was in stark contrast to WeeNix’s tidy passing to feet and who were able to pass around Canterbury with relative ease. Final third balls and crossing were poor and they were lucky to have a long ball proving so effective as explained above. Nakamura had another great game as he exploited the channels after starting in a wide position to great effect and got a goal in the 13th minute from Mitchell with a through ball from deep.

Sarpreet Singh

In a team full of talented young players, Singh definitely stood out for having something special. He was center of everything good that came from WeeNix as he was clearly the teams designated playmaker and captain. WeeNix’s equaliser came from a superb solo run from a short corner as Singh dribbled inside to fire a great shot into the top corner of the goal. He was then on the end of Rogerson’s cross to hit home a brace for himself, and put his side into the lead. Subbed off at the hour mark due to first team responsibilities and rightly so, I would bet he has a big future ahead of him.

Singh gettyimages
Sarpreet Singh, per gettyimages

System Change

2-1 down at home with 30 odd minutes left to play, changes were needed. Canterbury brought on Lockhart and Nicklaw for Wilson and Mitchell. They also changed formation to a 4231 with Lockhart as the ‘10’, Nicklaw adding some physically on the right, while King dropped to his natural left back and could deal with a speedy and trickery of Rogerson. Canterbury flooded players forward, 6 or 7 at a time with Spain getting forward more on the right while having Nicklaw as an extra aerial presence for a small WeeNix side. They had control the game for the last 25 and after Schwarz headed an equaliser in the 72nd minute it looked like Canterbury would go on and grab a winner. This was the case in the 82nd minute where an overload on the right flank with Spain, Nicklaw and Ogilvie combined for Ogilvie to chip a ball into a goal mouth scramble for veteran defender Terris, to score the winner.

CU Celebrate
Canterbury United celebrate the winner, per NZ Football

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