Wellington Phoenix Reserves – Match Report vs. Miramar Rangers (29/10/2022)

Wellington Phoenix Reserves fell 3-2 to Miramar Rangers in New Zealand National League action. Rangers were up 3-0 at halftime, having capitalised on some defensive errors by the youthful Phoenix Reserves. In the second half the Baby ‘Nix put quite a bit more pressure on but it wasn’t quite enough to complete the comeback. 


  • 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

Riley Bidois

Player Profile:

  • Nationality: New Zealand
  • Age: 20
  • Date of Birth: 12/03/2002
  • Current club: Wellington Phoenix Reserves
  • Career: Tauranga City
  • Position: Striker
  • Preferred foot: Either

Riley Bidois played as one of the two strikers in Wellington’s 4-2-2-2 formation. He was quite anonymous in the first half but had a very eventful second half with a goal and a red card. Bidois has a lot of qualities that are quite desirable in a classic #9. He is quite big, quite fast, and can pull off some shifty runs to elude markers in the penalty area. All of this is probably plenty to secure him a decent career as a striker. He is very good at just peeling off the blindside of a defender. This skill led to his goal and a couple of other chances. Bidois displayed the ability to do some basic link-up play but he isn’t going to be playing as a false 9 anytime soon. His tall frame and strength made him good at holding off opposing defenders and his above-average speed made it a bit dangerous for them to get too tight to him. He also dropped off a couple of times to receive the ball. He was good at finding pockets to receive the ball but he wasn’t doing anything crazy once he received it. He mostly just spread the ball out to the wing. He did not attempt many dribbles but the few he did attempt did not look particularly threatening. In the final moments of the game, Bidois was sent off after getting tangled up with a Miramar player (who was also sent off). The incident was off-camera so it’s hard to say exactly what happened but I don’t think getting sent off for an off-the-ball incident is ever a good thing. Obviously, I can’t judge if he deserved it or not but you can’t give the referee a reason to send you off in that kind of situation. As far as I can tell Bidois has not received many bookings in his career (though obviously data on that is a bit limited) so I suspect this was a one-off incident but his ability to keep his cool is something to watch out for.

Rating – A1

Despite some definite shortcomings, I think Bidois’ physical traits and off-the-ball movement will make him an effective goal scorer at a higher level. He already has some appearances for the Wellington Phoenix first team. I strongly suspect Ben Waine will be moving overseas in the January transfer window and if that does happen it would be a great opportunity for Wellington to further integrate Bidois. But if that doesn’t happen then he would be a good player to snatch up for lots of teams in Europe. At age 20 he has to be considering his options. 

Noah Karunaratne

Player Profile: 

  • Nationality: New Zealand
  • Age: 19
  • Date of Birth: 27/06/2003
  • Current club: Wellington Phoenix Reserves
  • Position: Winger
  • Preferred Foot: Right

Noah Karunaratne played as a winger in this match. He showed some very positive qualities but his lack of cutting edge makes me doubtful of his future as a purely attacking player. Fortunately, I think he could make quite a smooth transition to either a centre midfield or fullback role. Karunaratne showed a tremendous work rate in this match. He put Miramar players in uncomfortable positions with his pressing on several occasions. He was really good at pressing at the right moment to cause some chaos. He was also quite a good ball carrier. He’s very quick with the ball at his feet and good at holding off would-be tacklers. He won several fouls by shielding the ball with his body effectively. Sometimes it took him a bit too long to get the ball under control but once he had it he was not likely to give it up. But despite these positive traits he really did not provide very much direct offensive threat. He didn’t attempt any passes in behind the Miramar defence and he did not take any shots. He had some nice short-range passes that switched the point of attack in transition but he did not create any shots. The natural thing to do with a winger who has some skill but does not score enough is to move him to fullback. That could certainly work for Karunaratne as he has the right physical traits for it and some decent defensive acumen. But I think his best role would be as a #8 because then he would have more freedom to hunt the ball down and drive through the middle of the field with his dribbling. The problem is, that role doesn’t really exist in the Wellington Phoenix first team. So he might have to go elsewhere to meet his full potential.

Rating – A2

I think Karunaratne has a lot of positive things in his game. He has already appeared on the bench for Wellington Phoenix’s senior team so clearly, they agree. But I have my doubts about his suitability for their system. 

Dan McKay

Player Profile: 

  • Nationality: New Zealand
  • Age: 18
  • Date of Birth: 27/11/2003
  • Current Club: Wellington Phoenix Reserves
  • Position: Defensive Midfielder
  • Preferred foot: Right

Dan McKay played as one of the two defensive midfielders for Wellington in this match. He showed a lot of good things and seems like a great fit for the first team’s system. But I could not help but feel some of his decision-making left something to be desired. McKay was heavily involved in all of the Baby Nix’s build-ups. He demonstrated a strong range of passing, able to make long-range passes and shorter passes in tight situations. He clearly has a lot of technical skill with a good first touch and a couple of nice turns. But he often missed opportunities to make even more progressive passes than he does already by taking a little too long to make a decision. He has a lot of skill on the ball but if he could do what he does about 15% faster he would be an extremely exciting player. I would also like to see a bit more penetration with his passing. Progressing the ball to the front four is certainly a positive thing but it would be better if he could also carve open a defence. Miramar sat in a very low block this game and, while McKay displayed some obvious ability, quicker decisions, and more dangerous passing would have helped break it down. McKay put in a strong shift defensively. He was frequently well-positioned to make interceptions and showed some decent aerial ability. All in all, he has a skillset that should make him a very good fit with the first team and that should help his chances of making the jump. 

Rating – A2

McKay has some things to clean up in his game that may prevent him from reaching the highest levels of the game. But I think he is a natural fit for the Wellington Phoenix and I would not be at all surprised to see him as an established member of the first team in a year or two. Beyond that, who knows? 

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