Wairarapa United’s Cory Chettleburgh in action for the Central League XI against the Wellington Phoenix on Saturday. PHOTO/BLAKE WESTON

FOOTBALL

A Paul Ifill-inspired Central League XI came up short in a 0-2 loss to the Wellington Phoenix on the Kapiti Coast on Saturday.

Four Wairarapa United players – Ifill, Cory Chettleburgh, Alex Britton and Azariah Soromon – were part of the Central League squad tasked with giving the Phoenix a decent pre-season workout.

The Phoenix started off with the confidence you would expect after their 5-0 win over Napier City Rovers the previous weekend.

It was not long before Sarpreet Singh was combining well down the left, crossing into Roy Krishna whose shot was blocked by the Central League XI’s starting keeper, James McPeake.

The Phoenix worked well in the final third with Krishna and Byong Soo Yoo dropping in deep to allow space in behind for Louis Fenton and Singh to exploit.

Singh did just that as he was put through in behind on the left before dragging the ball back to Krishna, but his shot was stopped to prevent the Phoenix taking the lead.

Ex-Phoenix legend Ifill was deployed in the midfield for the Central League XI and managed to start several counters, although his team enjoyed very few chances on goal.

The Phoenix were rampant and chances came often as Singh got in behind and attempted to play around the goalkeeper, but McPeake came out on top yet again and tipped the ball away for a corner.

The deadlock was finally broken as a free kick dropped inside the box, and Krishna buried it from about five metres out.

Moments later the Phoenix had another chance as Yoo was fouled inside the box, with the referee giving the penalty.

Krishna stepped up and hit hard to the keeper’s right, but McPeake got down well and smothered the ball to deny another goal.

The Phoenix enjoyed more chances in the lead-up to the break but were unable to double their lead.

Phoenix coach Mark Rudan rang the changes in the second half as David Williams and Nathan Burns came on in place of Krishna and Mitch Nichols, and their pace began to exhaust the Central League XI’s backline.

Singh released Williams a couple of times down the right, but the defence remained tight as the goalkeeper pulled off some great saves to deny Singh when inside the area.

In extra time the Phoenix doubled their lead when Burns got through on goal and evaded several defenders to slot one in the bottom right corner, finishing the game off in style.

– with Wellington Phoenix