Phoenix in high spirits

The Wellington Phoenix head to Australia for their final pre-season hit-out with a strong air of positivity despite a 3-2 loss to Chinese side Guangzhou Pharmaceuticals on Tuesday.

The Wellington Phoenix head to Australia for their final pre-season hit-out with a strong air of positivity despite a 3-2 loss to Chinese side Guangzhou Pharmaceuticals on Tuesday.

Although the Phoenix failed to record a victory on their China tour, drawing 2-all in an earlier match against Tianjin Teda, they feel the pluses far outweigh any negatives associated with a lack of winning spirit.

Newly-signed British striker Chris Greenacre grabbed his first goal in Wellington colours against Guangzhou while two trial strikers - Brazilian Anderson Potty and Chinese Under-23 player Jiang Chen - were also given a crack.

"Overall, it was a good opportunity for us to take a close look at the two triallists in a game context against very competitive opposition," Phoenix coach Ricki Herbert said.

"Jiang, in particular, was very good and showed he definitely has the potential to do well in the Hyundai A-League."

Chen may well find himself slotting into a striking rotation alongside Greenacre and another newly-signed English club veteran in Paul Ifill.

There are 19 players on the Phoenix's books, with a maximum of 23 allowed in the squad during the A-League season. That leaves them plenty of room to sign another striker while still leaving the option open for later additions.

The talent already in the Phoenix stable showed their promise against Guangzhou and were only pipped in the dying stages.

After going down 0-1 on the 30-minute mark, Greenacre banged in his first Phoenix goal in the 56th minute.

Troy Hearfield looked to have given his side a 2-1 lead soon after but the goal was disallowed due to the referee deciding Diego's corner had gone out of play before swinging into Hearfield's path.

Instead it was Guangzhou who went out to 2-1 when young Phoenix keeper Reece Crowther made an error from a free kick.

The visitors kept pushing forward and were rewarded when captain Andrew Durante headed in young star Costa Barbarouses' cross, but an unstoppable free kick in the dying stages handed Guangzhou the spoils.

Nonetheless, Herbert was most pleased with his team's efforts and felt they were well on track ahead of an August 9 season opener against the Jets in Newcastle.

"Everyone has got some time on the field and everyone has performed extremely well," he said.

"Overall, the trip has been sensational - the conditions and the opposition have been challenging but we've been scoring goals and playing well."

"I'm also very pleased to see Chris score his first goal for the club. Things bode very well for the season."

The Phoenix depart China on Thursday ahead of Saturday's game against the Central Coast Mariners in Dubbo, New South Wales.