Teenager Louis Fenton was impressive today despite the Wellington Phoenix surprisingly being beaten 3-2 by Shillong Lajong in the North-East Super Series final at Shillong’s Nehru Stadium.
Rested by coach Ricki Herbert from the starting line up, 19-year-old Fenton, who is part of the Phoenix School of Excellence, took the game by storm on taking the field after halftime with an impressive, pulsating display.
That the Phoenix lost could be put down to a lacklustre first half performance that was possibly due to it being their fourth game in nine days, along with some difficult travel.
The annoying thing for Herbert was that the Phoenix started well and took the lead within five minutes through Jeremy Brockie – who else? – with a glancing header from a perfect Alex Smith cross.
After that strong opening the Phoenix went off the boil and by halftime were trailing 1-2 thanks to two goals from Friday Gbenene, the first after a dreadful error by Tony Lochhead who played the ball into his path.
Herbert gave his team a rev up at halftime, as well as replacing Benji Totori with Fenton and Tom Doyle with Cameron Lindsay, and they looked a different team.
Completely over-running Shillong, the Phoenix created chances galore but could only manage a Paul Ifill penalty on the scoreboard which levelled the score at 2-2.
In contrast Shillong had only one shot at goal in the second half, and what a strike it was with diminutive winger lashing the ball into the top corner of the net from all of 30 metres seven minutes from full time.
While disappointed by the loss Herbert was happy overall with the tour.
“We got a good workout today, especially in the first half, which was what we needed,” Herbert said.
“It has been a tough trip but we got four good games under our belt and finished the tour with no injuries.
“Louis (Fenton) was really impressive today and I would have to say he has been the player of the tour overall.”
Captain Andrew Durante agreed it had been a difficult trip but said it was good to get away from the training ground and playing some meaningful games.
The Phoenix leave Shillong early tomorrow morning and arrive back in Wellington, minus Herbert and six All Whites and Solomon Islands representative Benji Totori, on Tuesday afternoon.