An injury to Wellington Phoenix defender Louis Fenton was the sour note of the 1-1 draw against the New Zealand A side in Rotorua today.
Fenton dislocated his shoulder when he fell in the 21st minute when challenging former Phoenix team-mate Tony Lochhead and his discomfort was immediate obviously.
Phoenix coach Ernie Merrick said after the match that his right back had dislocated his right collarbone and would be out for approximately six weeks, although that could be longer if the injury required surgery.
Apart from the blow to Fenton and the Phoenix, Merrick and Ricki Herbert for NZ A saw enough to give them some optimism for the near-future.
After causing few problems early, the Phoenix became more potent in the latter stages of the first half and NZ A keeper Glen Moss had to make a strong save full-stretch to his right to stop Alex Rufer open the scoring in the 28th minute.
The NZ A team also went close five minutes later when some nice work down the left flank from Matthew Ridenton put Jeremy Brockie through, and while he rounded Jacob Spoonley in the Phoenix goal, defender Manny Muscat had done enough to force Brockie wide enough that the striker couldn't screw his shot on target.
Marquee import Carlos Hernandez was becoming more influential for Merrick's team and he helped break the deadlock, splitting open the NZ A defence for Stein Huysegems to easily befuddle Moss and roll the ball into the empty net after 37 minutes.
The NZ A side dominated the opening stages of the second spell and drew level after 49 minutes thanks to the attacking impetus of right back Leo Bertos.
He combined well with Ridenton, got to the byline and pulled the ball back for Aaron Clapham to tap home from five metres out.
Michael Boxall and Brockie both came close to putting their respective sides ahead late in the match but couldn't find a winner in front of 3533 fans.
Clapham would have raised his chances of making Herbert's All Whites squad for matches ahead of New Zealand's World Cup qualifying playoff series in November, while teenager Ridenton looks to have a bright future.
Hernandez showed why he will be a sparkplug for the Phoenix in their A-League campaign while another promising youngster Rufer also displayed plenty to admire.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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