Draw a lost opportunity, O’Reilly says

In the end a draw may have been a fortunate result.

But there is still a feeling this was two points lost, rather than one gained.

Southern United created plenty of chances and played most of the second half with an extra man.

Yet it had to settle for a 1-1 draw against the ninth-placed Wellington Phoenix Reserves in the national football premiership on Saturday.

Byron Heath gave the Phoenix the lead in the 32nd minute, rising above to head in off a corner.

Southern was left to chase the game, which became easier when Brandon Wilson received a harsh red card in the 53rd minute.

But it took until the 83rd minute for a response.

A classy flick off a corner from young defender Andrew Cromb brought Southern level.

Southern coach Paul O’Reilly felt the draw was a fair reflection of the game.

He said his side dominated early and late, although felt the Phoenix had the better of large parts of the game too.

The team was without Danny Ledwith, who was suspended following a fifth yellow card in the last game before Christmas.

Chris Wingate also left with an injury at halftime, while the side was in its first game without star striker Joel Stevens.

That was a significant amount of experience to lose and O’Reilly felt that played a factor.

He said the side lacked quality in the final third, creating plenty of chances although being unable to put them away.

While there were positives to take, ultimately it had been a disappointing result.

"It feels like two points lost, to be honest," he said.

"But considering how the game went and also considering we had quite a lot of a reshuffle from our last game, you’ve got to come away and say we fought to the end, showed good resolve.

"We showed good fight again which is always pleasing.

"But I won’t lie, it feels like two points lost unfortunately."

Southern started well and looked to push forward early.

But the Phoenix began to take control midway through the half.

It took the lead 32 minutes in, when Heath headed into the top left corner past Little off a corner.

It remained in control until the 53rd minute, when Wilson was sent off in unusual circumstances.

He grabbed Jordan Spain’s jersey and as the referee played advantage, he then also brought down Garbhan Coughlan.

Wilson was shown a yellow card for each incident.

O’Reilly admitted it was "quite harsh", and Southern was lucky to get its one-man advantage.

It was the Phoenix that had the next chance though, Heath being played into space and hitting the post as he lobbed one over Little from close range.

Southern then piled on the pressure, which eventually told.

Coughlan delivered a low, quickly taken corner and Cromb met it with his right boot. He slotted it into the bottom right corner of the goal, exposing the lack of defender on the back post.

While it continued applying pressure, Southern was unable to net a winner.

 

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