Paul Ifill in action for the Wellington Phoenix in 2013. PHOTO/GETTY IMAGES

FOOTBALL

JAKE BELESKI
jake.beleski@age.co.nz

The Wairarapa United men’s team won’t have long to recover from their next Chatham Cup match against Stop Out Sports Club.

That match will be played on the weekend of July 14 and 15, and coach Phil Keinzley said they were now scheduled to host the Wellington Phoenix at Memorial Park in Masterton on the following Tuesday.

The Phoenix will use the match as a pre-season fixture before they begin their A-League campaign in October.

Keinzley said they were hopeful of putting on a good showing for the crowd.

“It’s just after our Chatham Cup game and it will be the first time, bar anything going on, that we’ll be at full strength.”

Club president Gill Flower said the Phoenix players would mingle with the children and do a few meet and greets at schools and clubs.

“We’ll also have a mini tournament for an hour and then they will play United in a friendly match.

“It’s fantastic to have them coming to the outer regions.”

One player who will be very familiar with the Phoenix and their systems is United striker Paul Ifill, who racked up 106 matches for the Phoenix from 2009 to 2014.

He scored 33 goals across those appearances.

It will not be the first time the two teams have played each other in Masterton, and it was only two years ago that the Phoenix came over and beat United 3-1.

On that occasion, the Phoenix fielded a mixture of contracted players, reserve and academy players.

The Phoenix went up 2-0 in the first half that day after goals to Louis Fenton and Rauri Cahill-Fleury, before Sam Mason-Smith pulled one back for United.

Cherbel Khouchaba completed the scoring for the Phoenix about halfway through the second half.

About 3000 people turned up at Memorial Park to watch that match.

The Phoenix will be hoping to build on last season’s disappointing A-League campaign, in which they won only five of their 27 matches to finish ninth out of 10 teams.

They only scored 31 goals throughout the season while conceding 55, and they will need to vastly improve if they are to be a contender in this season’s competition.