Phoenix Patterson just can’t stop scoring. The Waterford ace has scored 18 goals this season, five of them in his last five games.
Signed last summer when the Blues were still a top-flight side, the silky-smooth winger has made a massive impression on these banks.
While Patterson couldn’t stop Waterford from slipping down to the First Division last season, he made the most of his time in the Second Division.
“At the beginning of the season we didn’t start the way we wanted to. It was pretty slow, we didn’t get as many wins as we would have liked,” said the 22-year-old Extra.ie at the Extra.ie FAI Men’s Cup media day.
‘I was fine [with dropping down to the First Division]. I was signed to Waterford and when I got into the First Division my focus was just on getting Waterford back to where they really belong and that is the Premier Division.
“It was a good experience, it was a lot different than in the Premier Division.”
Waterford came into the season under the tutelage of Ian Morris but the ex-Shels boss was sacked in late April after an indifferent start to the season.
Danny Searle came on as his replacement and his side have grown in strength as the season has progressed: the Blues are now second in the table.
Patterson’s goalscoring form has been a huge help, but the former Scotland underage international insists he doesn’t let his thoughts on the pitch be clouded by scoring.
“I try not to think about it too much because I feel like if you think about goals all the time it kind of distracts you from the game. I just go out there and try to do my best and do my best for the team to hopefully win games.
“I practice [free-kick] after practice but not too much because in a game you might only get one or two so you need to make sure you make the most of it if you get that opportunity. So I’m just glad I was able to do those three games in a row. The practice must have paid off.
“I watch a lot of people take free-kicks but I think you can’t really look past Messi when it comes to the way he kicks the ball and curls it and that’s my technique.
“I’m just trying to make my own technique and I’m not trying to copy anyone else.”
Waterford meets Shelbourne in the semifinals of the Extra.ie FAI Men’s Cup on Sunday; the second consecutive season that Patterson has reached this stage.
The Wycombeer native came through the ranks at Watford and Tottenham in his native England, meaning he has plenty of experience with former team-mate Troy Parrott.
The pair even traded free-kick duties while playing together for the Lilywhites.
“I remember he took some, to be fair. I took some too. I can actually imagine where he scored. I think who really wins it [takes it].
“Maybe if he scored in a game and I didn’t, I would take it and vice versa. He’s a good free-kick taker and I’ve seen those for Ireland too. His technique is a little different… with the laces, more of a knuckleball technique.
‘I [still] talk to him Not so much anymore. I haven’t seen him for a while. It would be nice to see him again because he’s a good boy and he was one of my good buddies when I was at Tottenham.’
Waterford will certainly be hoping Patterson can fire one of those signature free-kicks home when Damien Duff and Shels come to town on Sunday.