Wellington’s Crowther set for A-League debut

Reece Crowther has extra incentive to turn on a big performance should he start for the Wellington Phoenix in their Hyundai A-League 2009/10 round four match against Sydney FC on Sunday – the 20-year-

Reece Crowther has extra incentive to turn on a big performance should he start for the Wellington Phoenix in their Hyundai A-League 2009/10 round four match against Sydney FC on Sunday – the 20-year-old’s goalkeeping coach is set to be on the bench as the Phoenix’s reserve custodian.

With first-choice keeper Mark Paston likely to be staying at home in Wellington to be with wife Amy for the birth of their first child, Crowther is in line to start against Sydney FC. It represents a significant opportunity for the former Queens Park Rangers player to strut his stuff in the big league – and to get one over on Phoenix assistant coach and goalkeeping mentor Jonathan Gould, who could serve as Crowther’s backup at Sydney Football Stadium.

At 41 Gould is more than twice his protégé’s age, but the former Celtic stopper and Scotland international still has the class and talent to foot it with the Hyundai A-League’s best.

He played more than 150 games for the Bhoys from 1997-2003 and also represented Coventry, Bradford City and Preston North End in England. He earned two caps for Scotland.

Gould laughed off any concerns about his fitness should he be required for the big match, despite his last match as a fully-fledged professional coming in 2005 against Wigan.

“The truth is the management team had a little fat test about three weeks ago and I wasn’t last…that’s all I’ll say. Seriously though, I’ve got not issues with my fitness at all.”

Nor does he have an issue with sitting on the bench should the apprentice become the master.

“We have a strong management team here and the whole focus is on getting the result for the Phoenix – that’s all it is.”

Although Paston has been Ricki Herbert’s number one keeper in the Phoenix’s first three matches, Gould says the Wellington outfit has a superb replacement in Sydney-born and raised Crowther should the New Zealand international custodian not make the trip.

“Reece comes with a presence just in his size (1.96m, 96kg) alone. Over the last four or five months we’ve been working on things. He’s got enough belief in his own ability and the technique to back that up as well.”

Having worked hard on his game since joining the Phoenix, Crowther was happy to be in line for a shot at starting.

“Everyone at the club wishes Pasty and Amy all the best. He has done well in the first three matches but when these chances come up you’ve got to grab them with both hands.

“If I get the call then that’s what I intend to do. I’m really looking forward to making my competitive debut for the Phoenix.”

With Sydney FC boasting plenty of strike power – as well as home advantage – Crowther could face a baptism by fire.

“Sydney FC have got a very good pedigree but I’m from Sydney and I’d be playing in front of my ‘home’ crowd, so if it comes off it’ll be perfect. I’m looking forward to the challenge.”

Crowther could perhaps be forgiven for ramping up the rivalry with his goalkeeping boss in the lead-up to the match but he knows only too well that diplomacy is the better course of action given Gould’s impressive resume.

“Gouldy, he’s brilliant and he can still play. As they say, ‘Form is temporary but class is permanent’. He’s a huge asset for the club.”

In other news, talented youngster Marco Rojas will travel with an extended squad to Sydney. The 17-year-old midfielder has impressed Herbert since joining the club and his addition to the squad takes him big step closer toward realising his dream of turning out for the Phoenix in a Hyundai A-League match.

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