Phoenix's Oli Sail tips the ball over the bar The JourneyFan


ISPS Handa Premiership
Dave Farrington Park, Wellington
Sunday 5th November, 2017 
Attendance 75

Football is a relativity simple game, 11 a side, the objective to get the ball in the oppositions goal, there are one or two rules, such as if the ball goes out of play you restart with a throw-in. In the first minute of this game Waitakere United got one and their right back, Nino Lacagnina took it, fourth official, Peter Linney, noticed that while the actual throw action was fine the player had both feet inside the field of play, not behind the line. As the game had only just started, he decided the best thing to do was to inform the Waitakere United bench so they could relay this to the player, for him not to do this again, simples!

Well...shortly after Waitakere United got a throw in in front of their bench, and they very clearly told Lacagnina to watch his feet and keep them behind the line, so what happens? you guessed it, he again has both feet in the field of play when he throws it, gets penalised, and has his hearing loudly questioned by a senior member of the Waitakere United bench!

Manny Achol (WPX) takes out Waitakere Utd's Dylan Manickum The JourneyFan

There were five goals in this game, which given Waitakere United were involved shouldn't have been a surprise, in their last three visits to Dave Farrington Park they have been involved in games which have produced, an average of just over seven per game. Those games were of course against Dave Farrington's main tenant's, Team Wellington. Against the Phoenix this was their seventh meeting and Waitakere United had won four of the previous six. 

The game looked as if it would be close for the first 16 minutes as both teams seemed to be creating some half chances, but when Ohtsuka scored the first for Waitakere in the 17th minute, the Phoenix lost their way and when Keegan Linderboom and John Shaw scored within five minutes of each other towards the end of the half to make it 3-0, it was effectively game over at half time.

In the first half our deaf throw in friend, Nino Lacagnina, had taken a few corners and some eagle eyed fans had spotted that he was taking them a noticeable distance from where he should be. They told the Assistant Referee but nothing was done, however the refs must have discussed the matter at half time as when Waitakere United got a corner two minutes in, and Lacagnina started to do the same, ref Matt Conger, approached and informed him that he didn't understand his problem with lines but it was obvious he had one! and to please ensure that the ball was inside the lines when taking a corner!

Waitakere United's Nino Lacagnina worrying about lines The JourneyFan

When a team has a comfortable 3-0 lead at half time and the opposition looks very unlikely top pose a threat, they tend to sit back, which is what Waitakere did. It was a disappointing performance from the Phoenix who despite their first team being in Australia (where they put in a very disappointing performance), had professionals, Ryan Lowry, James McGarry, Sapreet Singh and goalkeeper Oli Sail starting. 

Waitakere United put in an effective performance but weren't really stretched, they completed the scoring with two goals in the last 15 minutes, to make it 5-0 and left Phoenix fans leaving the game feeling their defence had grounds to apply for a government improvement grant.

The Crowd (such as it was) The JourneyFan

What was also disappointing was the crowd - just 75 (maybe a couple of more turned up later but we are talking one or two). It was a sunny day (if a bit windy) but the Phoenix do very little to promote these games, especially outside of social media (and even that's quite limited in what they do). They rely on Team Wellington to provide people for the gate and the BBQ, there was no ground announcer, the program had a half hearted, "we have to do this" feel about it and it just gives the impression that the Phoenix really don't care. Which is quite odd considering the time they spent battling to be allowed to enter their reserve team into the league. 

It can't be fun for the players, especially the professionals, who go from the first team in front of crowds of 7-10 thousand, to effectively playing in front of the parents and mates of the academy kids and a dozen and a half football tragics like myself. The thing is the ISPS Handa premiership is a real chance for the Phoenix to engage with their community and help build their support base, and with the way results are going this season in the A-League that is something they really need to do.