Christchurch United fell 3-1 to Birkenhead United in New Zealand National League action. Christchurch set up to play quite defensively and hit on the counter. In general, Birkenhead controlled the game and came away as the well-deserving winner.
- A1 – Very good, could play higher
- A2 – Strong potential to play higher
- B1 – Good, strong player at level
- B2 – Potential to be a strong player at level
- C – Average for the level, rewatch
- D – Below average in this match
- Nationality: New Zealand
- Age: 22 (approximately, based on his graduating high school in 2018)
- Date of Birth: Unknown
- Current club: Christchurch United
- Career: Canterbury United (Y), Otago University, Canterbury United
- Position: Winger
- Secondary position: Striker
- Preferred foot: Right
Edward Wilkinson played as a striker in this game, though he is more naturally a winger. It was pretty clear that Christchurch’s game plan was to just keep playing the ball into the channel and hope Wilkinson could make something happen with his pace. This had mixed success as Wilkinson did score but Christchurch generally looked quite disjointed. Wilkinson is very quick both with the ball and without it. His first touch and dribbling are a bit inconsistent but he is not without skill. He does have the ability to beat players with quick changes of direction but he is not the best in tight spaces. He is particularly good at turning quickly with a player on his back and accelerating past him. He is definitely a volume dribbler, usually needing a few attempts before he beats his man. Wilkinson is right-footed but he is pretty adept at using his weaker left foot. Wilkinson shoots a lot, from all angles, distances, and situations, and being two-footed helps him be more effective at that kind of game. But despite these positive traits, Wilkinson did not look particularly comfortable as a centre-forward. He does not have the instincts of a natural goal scorer (which is odd to say about a guy with 20 goals but this is New Zealand we’re talking about) rarely making the runs to the danger area in front of the goal. He prefers to hang back a little bit to receive the ball and then carry it into the box. There were often four or five Christchurch players ahead of him when their initial counterattack failed and they had to try and unlock Birkenhead’s defence. Wilkinson took set pieces for Christchurch and created a couple of decent chances from them.
Wilkinson is probably not destined for the Champions League but he definitely has the ability to play at a higher level. There are plenty of teams out there who could use a fast and two-footed winger who takes a million shots per game and has enough skill to make those things work at a decent level. The fact that he can be signed from an amateur status league is a bonus. I think he is good enough to play in the A-League but there isn’t really a spot for him on the Wellington Phoenix at this point. Wilkinson is in his early 20s so it’s probably better that he take a step up sooner rather than later. He would be a great buy-low option for European clubs on a similar level to the A-League.