Good without the ball, not so good with it.
That was the assessment of Wellington Phoenix coach Darije Kalezic after his side limped through a 0-0 draw against Central League leaders Western Suburbs at Jerry Collins Stadium in Porirua on Tuesday night.
“To be honest this kind of game normally we have to win easy, but because of all of the things that happens in this moment in the team, the injuries, the small squad, the players who come late from the holidays, all of that stuff has an influence on the result,” Kalezic said,
“We’ve trained a lot on organisation and tonight that was the priority for me to see and I saw that, so we can be satisfied with that.”
The Phoenix started the match without regular startering players Andrew Durante and Gui Finkler due to injury, but they did have six players you would normally expect to start for them when the regular season rolls around in Marco Rossi, Michael McGlinchey, Tom Doyle, Lewis Italiano and new signings Scott Galloway and Goran Paracki.
Paracki overcame a couple of poor early touches to look assured in his holding midfield roll, while Galloway looked at ease at right back.
The first half saw Wests have the most possession, but the Phoenix the most chances. The best of those fell to Sarpreet Singh after 30 minutes, but he blazed his shot over the bar from 15 yards out.
Five minutes before halftime Rossi was sent off for a stamp on a Wests attacker, Callum McCowatt, who was laying prone on the ground. Some pre-season matches would see another player allowed on for the Phoenix, but that didn’t happen in this one.
Kalezic agreed with referee Robert Fleetham’s decision to send Rossi off and when discussing it after the match he had an interesting take on why it happened.
“It was a red card. Marco is a player who got three months off [since last season] and you see what the result is. Some players get four days off, some get three months off.
“If you come from the three months holiday to play a game after one week that’s the result you get. We as a club have to change that, the culture to get different holiday times for the players. This is only one of the many things we can improve and develop in the organisation.”
The second half saw Wests swap their entire team for their second team, which was understandable given they have a Central League match on Sunday which they can secure the title with if they win.
Still, their seconds dominated against 10 men without ever really threatening the goal.
The Phoenix had a couple of chances late on but couldn’t find a decent finish. Their lack of players at the moment was shown when their under-20 centre back Liam Wood came on at left midfield late in the second half.
Neither Durante or Finkler will be available next Tuesday for their away FFA Cup clash against Western Sydney Wanderers.
Ahead of that match, Kalezic said the would need to work on keeping possession.
“If we want to get a result there we have to keep the ball longer, we have to be smarter, we have to make better choices on the ball and that’s where we have to put the attention.”
AT A GLANCE
Western Suburbs 0 Wellington Phoenix 0