Phoenix start strong in China

The Wellington Phoenix kicked off their Chinese tour with an encouraging 2-2 draw with Super League side Tianjin Teda on Saturday.

The Wellington Phoenix kicked off their Chinese tour with an encouraging 2-2 draw with Super League side Tianjin Teda on Saturday.

The Phoenix raced out to a 2-0 lead thanks to goals by All Whites duo Tim Brown and Ben Sigmund but Tianjin hit back twice after half-time to square the ledger.

Brown opened the scoring in the 14th minute when Leo Bertos' free-kick fell to new striker Chris Greenacre, who picked out Brown to blast home from six yards.

The Phoenix's second also came from a set-piece and also had Bertos as the provider. His pinpoint corner found Sigmund's head and the defender nodded it in at the near post.

Phoenix coach Ricki Herbert went to his bench in the second half to give his squad a run, including striker Anderson Potty who is on trial with a view to joining the club.

The humid conditions finally got to the Wellingtonians when Tianjin scored twice in the last 15 minutes through a penalty and a late tying goal.

Herbert paid tribute to the efforts of his side, which had only arrived in China on Friday after a marathon journey from Wellington.

"The conditions were very hot and humid and that told towards the end of the match," Herbert said.

"We started very, very well and had them under a lot of pressure and were very comfortable, but it was clear we were tiring somewhat as the clock wound down, and Tianjin were able to take advantage."

"Still, this was a very pleasing result and great preparation for the season ahead. We were able to give everyone in the squad some game-time against a very competitive top-flight side and that will be very beneficial for us."

Herbert said the Phoenix were now looking confidently ahead to their second match of the tour, against Guangzhou on Tuesday.

"Of course there are things we need to work on but I'm really pleased with this performance in what were very difficult conditions," he said.

"The key thing for us is to test ourselves against good opposition and we'll get another shot at refining things further against Guangzhou on Tuesday night."

Following their Chinese tour, the Phoenix head to New South Wales to play another warm-up match against Hyundai A-League rival Central Coast on July 25.

That fixture is likely to be their last before starting the A-League campaign away to the Newcastle Jets on August 9.