Manawatu youngsters take a lot from pre-season clash
The result aside, YoungHeart Manawatu will be happy with their pre-season match against the Wellington Phoenix at Memorial Park on Saturday.
Manawatu lost 7-1 in their first hitout of the year before their season starts on November 4, but it was what YoungHeart coach Stu Jacobs had expected against the professional A-League side who start this weekend.
"I just think we've got to come out of that and look at the positive things, really, which I think there were a number," he said.
"I look at where we were last year this time and where we are this year this time; it's night and day, really."
Manawatu had a lot of new players, so Jacobs will have to decide who to keep.
"We had to go that way a wee bit after last year," Jacobs said.
"So we've had a good look at players. Still got local players in training with the squad, so we've got to try and put the best squad together with what we've got. Got a bit more than last year."
Manawatu's best were the three Phoenix academy players, striker Hamish Watson, midfielder Tobias Bertsch and defender Alex Solomon.
Watson would be a good pickup, he was the Central League's golden boot and scored Manawatu's goal, tapping in a cross from Tom Mosquera.
The academy players should play for Team Wellington because they are in the Phoenix academy but if they don't, Jacobs hoped they would come to YoungHeart.
Mosquera and the returning Dale Higham kept the Phoenix defenders honest at times, while stalwart Nathan Cooksley battled away at the back.
"The boys worked physically for 90 minutes at a good tempo," Jacobs said.
"And as I said to a couple of them, ‘you're not going to get that in the [national] league and that's the difference'."
Manawatu's pre-season continues with Hawke's Bay United in Palmerston North on Sunday, Waikato FC in Taupo the weekend after and potentially another game against the Phoenix.
"I think it's a reasonable run in," Jacobs said. "Start at the top and move down."
It was Manawatu's first game so it was hard for Phoenix coach Ricki Herbert to tell how they were faring.
"I think Stu's got a bit of work to do but time to go," he said.
"So I think that's great for him and we'll help out again in a couple of weeks with another training game which should be good.
"Hopefully they have a good season as well."
Herbert was pleased with his side ahead of their opener against Sydney FC this Saturday.
"I thought we were good today, scored good goals, some young players coming through, a chance for everybody today," he said.
"I think from the region's point of view, it's good to bring the team here as well."
The Phoenix showed they were a cut above.
Jeremy Brockie's goal-scoring form continued with a hat-trick before halftime and Ricardo Clarke was dangerous on attack.
Wellington Phoenix 7 (Jeremy Brockie 3, 3', 30', 37', Louis Fenton 14', Stein Huysegems 40', Ricardo Clarke 65', Tyler Boyd 85') YoungHeart Manawatu 1 (Hamish Watson 52') HT 5-0.
Stats: Shots on target: YHM 2, WP 10. Shots off target: YHM 3, WP 6. Corners: YHM 2, WP 8. Yellow cards: YHM 1 (Liam Higgins).