Matchday preview: Wellington Phoenix v Newcastle Jets
Hutt Recreation Ground, Lower Hutt
Sunday, 22 February 2015
Kick-Off: 5:00 PM (Local) (3:00 PM AEDT)
Wellington Phoenix: 1.Glen MOSS (GK), 2.Manny MUSCAT, 4.Roly BONEVACIA, 5.Michael BOXALL, 7.Kenny CUNNINGHAM, 8.Alex RODRIGUEZ, 9.Nathan BURNS, 10.Michael McGLINCHEY, 13.Albert RIERA, 15.Jason HICKS, 17.Vince LIA, 18.Ben SIGMUND, 19.Tom DOYLE, 20.Lewis ITALIANO (GK), 21.Roy KRISHNA, 22.Andrew DURANTE (c)
Ins: Tom DOYLE (promoted)
Outs: 16.Louis FENTON (concussion – 1 week)
Unavailable: 23.Matthew Ridenton (knee injury – 4 weeks)
Newcastle Jets: 1.Jess VANSTRATTAN (GK), 2.Scott NEVILLE, 3.Taylor REGAN, 5.Ben KANTAROVSKI, 8.Zenon CARAVELLA, 10.Travis COOPER, 11.Andrew HOOLE, 12.Sam GALLAGHER, 13.Edson MONTANO, 16.Jacob PEPPER, 18.Allan WELSH, 19.Mitch COOPER, 20.Ben KENNEDY (GK), 21.Daniel MULLEN, 22.LEE Ki-je, 26.Nick COWBURN, 27.Radovan PAVICEVIC, 28.Braedyn CROWLEY
***two to be omitted***
Ins: 2.Scott NEVILLE (returns from injury), 10.Travis COOPER (promoted)
Unavailable: 15.Joshua BARRESI (knee – season), 17.James VIRGILI (ankle – 7 weeks)
TV Broadcast: Live and exclusive coverage on FOX SPORTS 505 from 3.00pm (AEDT) and Sky Sport 1 (New Zealand)
Radio Broadcast: Online/ABC Radio Mobile phone app, Radio Sport, Wellington (93.7FM and 1503AM) and via Radio Sport Extra online and on the I-Heart Radio app
Referee: Kris Griffiths-Jones
The Wellington Phoenix’s season has stalled somewhat in the last three weeks. Having seriously challenged the top two around New Year, three winless games and two goalless outings have stymied their momentum. Ernie Merrick will certainly be targeting this game to re-launch his side’s campaign.
Off-field issues continue to swirl around the Newcastle Jets, but they put on a vastly improved showing last week in snatching a 1-1 draw with Western Sydney. The finals are all but gone for Phil Stubbins’ side, but pride is a powerful motivator for a playing group which has been through the wringer in more ways than one.
The Hutt Recreation Ground – temporary home of the Phoenix – was greeted with widespread acclaim last weekend when it became an A-League venue for the first time. The playing surface, close proximity of the crowd and overall match-day experience all earned plaudits.
OPTA DATA STATS
The Jets have scored fewer goals (four) on their travels than any other side this season, and haven’t found the net at all in their last four away games. To make matters worse for Newcastle, the Phoenix are the best defensive side at home in 2014/15, conceding just five goals in eight games, and none in their last three matches in Wellington.
The Phoenix have also had recent goalscoring issues, not scoring in their last two matches, while Golden Boot leader Nathan Burns hasn’t netted in his last four outings. The last time the Phoenix went three A-League matches without a goal was September 2008.
ROUTE TO GOAL
Since the Asian Cup break, these two sides have combined for just four goals in nine hours of football.
Of the two, the Phoenix would appear to have more goalscoring potential, which was on full display before the Asian Cup. Nathan Burns, Roy Krishna and Michael McGlinchey combined for 19 goals in the first dozen games of the season and are desperate to recapture that form.
The Jets might look down their left for the answers to their goalscoring woes, with the combination of Sam Gallagher and Lee Ki-Je showing promise last weekend against Western Sydney. If delivery to Edson Montano can become more regular, the Ecuadorian has shown enough to suggest he can be more prolific than his three goals this season would indicate.
WHO'S BEEN IN THE SPOTLIGHT THIS WEEK?
Louis Fenton suffered a fearful blow to the jaw against Melbourne City FC, forcing him from the field with concussion and out of this weekend’s clash, meaning he’ll have to wait seven days to rack up his 50th A-League appearance.
Wellington Phoenix: DLLWW
The Asian Cup came at the wrong time for Wellington. Having won four straight, and six from seven before the mid-season break, the Phoenix have picked up just one point from a possible nine since their return.
Newcastle Jets: DLLDL
The Jets have notched just a solitary win this season, and escaped a third-straight loss last weekend with a late penalty. Defence has been the major problem, with their 38 goals conceded the worst by some distance in the A-League.
DID YOU KNOW?
If the Phoenix score twice in this game, they’ll reach 50 A-League goals against Newcastle. The Jets would be the first side they’ve managed that feat against.
Wellington Phoenix 2 Newcastle Jets 0
Most observers would expect the Phoenix to return to winning ways in this match. After creating – yet spurning – plenty of chances in their last two games, it’s hard to see Ernie Merrick’s side being as wasteful again against an opponent low on confidence and fighting battles both on and off the pitch.