11 Oct 2016

Phoenix youngsters impress

3:01 pm on 11 October 2016

Two Wellington Phoenix youngsters are hoping to get another chance to impress after turning heads during their side's 1-0 loss to Melbourne City on Sunday.

After a stunted first half, the injection of Alex Rufer and debutante Logan Rogerson had the Phoenix looking likely to score, though the home side weren't able to find the net despite having a one-man advantage.

Wellington Phoenix striker Logan Rogerson will lead the line for the New Zealand Under 20s.

Wellington Phoenix striker Logan Rogerson in action. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

Melbourne were leading when they were reduced to 10 men in the 58th minute after keeper Thomas Sorenson was sent off for a handball outside the box.

Striker Rogerson, who is just 18, said after a slow start the team showed some heart after the break.

"I think the team did pretty well in the second half, after the send-off it made things a bit easier," Rogerson said.

"I think we were a bit fitter than them, so we kept going and going. We were pretty unlucky not to get a goal in the end or a point out of it."

Rogerson, who came on with 15 minutes left to play, said the message was simple from coach Ernie Merrick.

"He just said to do my thing. Take players on, dribble, don't be scared, get the ball, don't hide.

"I was pretty happy to get a first touch quite early so my nerves settled."

Midfielder Alex Rufer also made the most of his opportunity after coming on at half-time for Hamish Watson.

Wellington Phoenix midfielder Alex Rufer

Wellington Phoenix midfielder Alex Rufer Photo: Photosport

Rufer, who was sidelined for the majority of last season with a broken tibia in his leg, said he was just happy to be back out on the pitch.

"Iv'e just got a new motivation and hunger after being out for so long. So I think that game was really perfect for me to come on to, show what I can do and now hopefully I can keep playing.

"It was a disappointing result, but I think we can take a lot of positives from the game, and so can I just individually, and if we can grow from that game I think we're going to have a very good season," he said.

The Phoenix now turn their attention to Sunday's game against the Perth Glory who drew 3-3 against the Central Coast Mariners at the weekend.

All Whites players Louis Fenton, Kosta Barbarouses, Michael McGlinchey, Andrew Durante and Matthew Ridenton will join the Phoenix in Perth, though with a game against the US tomorrow it is unclear who will be fit to play.