A six-pointer looms as the Wellington Phoenix host Adelaide United on Saturday.
Wellington Phoenix v Adelaide United
Hutt Recreation Ground, Lower Hutt
Saturday, 7 March 2015
Kick-Off: 5:00 PM (Local) (3:00 PM AEDT)
Wellington Phoenix: 1.Glen MOSS (GK), 3.Joel GRIFFITHS, 4.Roly BONEVACIA, 5.Michael BOXALL, 7.Kenny CUNNINGHAM, 8.Alex RODRIGUEZ, 9.Nathan BURNS, 10.Michael McGLINCHEY, 13.Albert RIERA, 15.Jason HICKS, 16.Louis FENTON, 17.Vince LIA, 18.Ben SIGMUND, 19.Tom DOYLE, 20.Lewis ITALIANO (GK), 21.Roy KRISHNA, 22.Andrew DURANTE (c)
***one to be omitted***
Ins: 16.Louis FENTON (returns from injury), 19.Tom DOYLE (promoted)
Outs: 2.Manny MUSCAT (suspended)
Unavailable: 23.Matthew Ridenton (knee injury – 4 weeks)
Adelaide United squad: 1.Eugene GALEKOVIC (GK) (c), 2.Michael MARRONE, 3.Nigel BOOGAARD, 4.Dylan McGOWAN, 7.PABLO SÁNCHEZ, 8.ISAÍAS, 9.Sergio CIRIO, 10.Marcelo CARRUSCA, 11.Bruce DJITE, 14.Cameron WATSON, 16.Craig GOODWIN, 17.Awer MABIL, 18.Jimmy JEGGO, 19.Miguel PALANCA, 21.Tarek ELRICH, 24.Bruce KAMAU, 30.John HALL (GK), 32.Nathan KONSTANDOPOULOS
***two to be omitted***
Ins: 3.Nigel BOOGAARD (returns from injury), 8.ISAÍAS (returns from suspension), 30.John HALL (GK) (promoted), 32.Nathan KONSTANDOPOULOS (promoted)
Outs: 15.Ben WARLAND (not selected), 20.Paul IZZO (GK) (not selected)
Unavailable: 5.Osama MALIK (ankle – 1-2 weeks), 23.Jordan ELSEY (knee – indefinite)
TV Broadcast: Live and exclusive coverage on FOX SPORTS 505 from 3.00pm (AEDT)
Radio Broadcast: Online/ABC Radio Mobile phone app, Radio Sport Wellington (93.7FM) and Radio Sport Extra online and via I-Heart Radio app
Referee: Ben Williams
Both previous meetings this season have been high on drama; an injury-time winner from Sergio Cirio gave Adelaide all three points in round five, while a New Year's Eve double from the soon-to-depart Tyler Boyd secured the Phoenix just their third ever win in Adelaide in round 13. At the back, both sides have been very good this season. In fact, Adelaide boast the best defensive record in the league, and with Nigel Boogaard set to return, will be even harder to break down. Ernie Merrick though has a defensive quandary with highly experienced full-back Manny Muscat suspended. He can at least welcome back Louis Fenton from a concussion-enforced break, but has a decision to make over who starts at left-back in Muscat's absence.
OPTA DATA STATS
Both sides have scored in eight of the last nine A-League meetings between these two clubs, while Adelaide United have scored in all but one of their last 14 A-League matches, a run that includes two games against Wellington Phoenix.
The Phoenix are unbeaten in their last eight A-League home matches, winning five and drawing three, while keeping four clean sheets.
Adelaide have won just one of their last eight games in New Zealand, but that came on their last visit – a 1-0 win in round 25 last season.
ROUTE TO GOAL
The Phoenix rediscovered their goal-scoring mojo against Victory last week, in part through an unlikely source. Michael Boxall (starting for just the second time this season) headed in their second equaliser - his first A-League goal - before calmly supplying the pass for Nathan Burns to break his own goal-scoring drought and provide the winner. Phoenix fans will hope Burns can now recapture the form which saw him strike fear into opposition defences before the Asian Cup break.
Adelaide’s goals have been shared around with Cirio, Bruce Djite, Pablo Sanchez and Marcelo Carrusca all chipping in. The fact they don’t rely on one focal point in attack, and can threaten from all areas of the pitch, has allowed them to consistently grab goals – and points – this season
WHO'S BEEN IN THE SPOTLIGHT THIS WEEK?
Phoenix coach Ernie Merrick inked a three-year contract extension on Thursday, keeping him in Wellington until the end of the 2017/18 A-League season.
Wellington Phoenix: WDDLL
The Phoenix snapped a four-game winless streak with victory in Melbourne on Sunday night, and also gained some much-needed goal-scoring form
Adelaide United: LWDLW
The consistency which saw the Reds race out of the blocks in October has been harder to recapture in 2015, with Adelaide winning just one of their last four games.
DID YOU KNOW?
The curtain-raiser to this game features a Phoenix Legends XI, with returning players including Paul Ifill, Eugene Dadi, Tim Brown, Vaughan Coveny, Chris Greenacre, Mark Paston, Michael Ferrante and Daniel Cortes, as well as former team manager Mal Impombiato.
Wellington Phoenix 1-0 Adelaide United
The two tightest defences in the league square off, so goals are likely to be at a premium. In the third and final game at their temporary Hutt Rec home, and off the back of a confidence-boosting first ever win away at Victory, the Phoenix could shade this one by the odd goal, perhaps even from the boot of former Reds player Burns.comments