Hyundai A-League preview: Glory v Phoenix

It’s a Distance Derby cracker to kick-off Round 14 with star striker Shane Smeltz in the Phoenix squad looking to bring down his former club in the West.

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MATCH DETAILS

Thursday, 5 January 2017

nib Stadium, Perth

Kick-Off: 6:00PM (Local) (9:00PM (AEDT))

Referee: Shaun Evans

Assistant Referee 1: Josh Mannella

Assistant Referee 2: Matthew Southern

Fourth Official: Adam Fielding

TV Broadcast: Live coverage on Fox Sports 505 from 8.00pm (AEDT) and Sky Sport 3 (New Zealand)

Radio Broadcast: 720 ABC Perth, ABC Local Radio WA, Grandstand Digital, Online & via the ABC Radio Mobile App – A-league Live.

Join the conversation on Twitter using the hash-tag #PERvWEL

To purchase tickets visit www.aleague.com.au

Perth Glory Squad: 2.Alex GRANT, 3.Marc WARREN, 4.Shane LOWRY, 7.Joel CHIANESE, 8.Rostyn GRIFFITHS (c), 9.Andy KEOGH, 10.Nebojsa MARINKOVIC, 13.Nicholas FEELY (gk), 14.Chris HAROLD, 16.Joe MILLS 17.Diego CASTRO, 19.Josh RISDON, 20.Aryn WILLIAMS, 21.Jamal REINERS, 22.Adam TAGGART, 23.Kosta PETRATOS, 24.Milan SMILJANIC, 33.Liam REDDY (gk)

**two to be omitted**

Ins: 3.Marc WARREN (promoted), 13.Nicholas FEELY (gk) (promoted), 21.Jamal REINERS (promoted), 23.Kosta PETRATOS (promoted)

Jamal Reiners

Outs: 15.Brandon WILSON (suspended - 1 week), 30.Jordan Thurtell (gk) (not selected)

Unavailable: 6.Dino DJULBIC (suspended - 2 weeks), 18.Mitch OXBORROW (foot - 4 weeks)

Wellington Phoenix Squad: 1.Glen MOSS (gk), 2.Jacob TRATT, 4.Roly BONEVACIA, 5.Ryan LOWRY, 7.Gui FINKLER, 8, Alex RODRIGUEZ, 9.Kosta BARBAROUSES, 11.Hamish WATSON, 12.Adam PARKHOUSE, 13.Marco ROSSI, 16.Louis FENTON, 19.Tom DOYLE, 20.Lewis ITALIANO (gk), 21 Roy KRISHNA, 22.Andrew DURANTE (c), 23.Matthew RIDENTON, 24 Logan ROGERSON, 99.Shane SMELTZ

**two to be omitted**

Ins: 16.Louis FENTON (promoted), 24.Logan ROGERSON (promoted), 99.Shane SMELTZ (new signing)

Phoenix utility Louis Fenton celebrates after making it 1-0 in Wellington.

Outs: 17.Vince LIA (suspended – 1 week)

Unavailable: Nil

BLUFFER’S GUIDE

Just two points separate fifth-placed Glory from Wellington in eighth, giving added importance to this Distance Derby. Throw in a likely debut of Phoenix’s Kiwi international – and ex-Glory frontman – Shane Smeltz - and there is plenty to like about this Thursday night encounter between two sides in a good bit of form. 

It was Glory that got the points when these sides met earlier in the 2016/17 Season (a 2-0 triumph in Rd 2) but much has changed since then.

While Kenny Lowe’s side picked up two away draws against Melbourne City and the Wanderers over the Summer of Football, it’s now six games since their last win. 

Glory players celebrate a goal

Despite the long wait for maximum points, they are still well-positioned for a charge in the second half of the season.

In fact, it was this time last season Glory began their resurgence. Will we see a repeat this time around?

For Phoenix, coaches Chris Greenacre and Des Buckingham have been rewarded for their good work with the full-time position until the end of the campaign.

Since taking over from Ernie Merrick, the duo have guided the Nix to four games without defeat, although they have drawn the last three in a row.

If Wellington is to make the leap from top six pretenders to contenders, they’ll have to start turning those draws into victories.

#PERvWEL - Wellington Phoenix are winless in their last five Thursday Hyundai A-League games (D1, L4), conceding an average of 2.8 goals per game.

In team news, both teams are without a key midfielder through suspension, with rising star Brandon Wilson missing for Glory, likewise Vince Lia for Phoenix. 

Nebo Marinkovic and Alex Rodriguez are the two likely to come into the starting XI for Glory and Phoenix respectively. 

OPTA DATA

*Perth Glory has won five of their last seven games against Wellington Phoenix in the Hyundai A-League, including each of the last three. However, Phoenix has won in two of their last three excursions to nib Stadium.

*Wellington Phoenix are winless in their last five Thursday Hyundai A-League games (D1, L4), conceding an average of 2.8 goals per game across that span. The last time they won a game on a Thursday was in December 2012.

*Glory have scored 10 goals in the opening half hour of Hyundai A-League games so far this season, more than any other team, while *Wellington have scored just twice in the same period, the fewest of any team.

*Phoenix are one of only two teams (Sydney FC) yet to conceded a headed goal this Hyundai A-League season.

ROUTE TO GOAL

It will be fascinating to see what Greenacre and Buckingham do with their attack now Smeltz is available for action. The 35-year-old has been training with the club for the last couple of weeks and is itching to get back on the pitch in the Hyundai A-League, a league he knows and loves. 

Smeltz is a proven goal-scorer and might just add that bit of finishing quality the Nix have been missing for much of the campaign.

 

My return to where it all started in the A-League for me. Buzzing & can't wait to get to work⚽️💪🏼 #SS99 @wellingtonphoenix @thealeague

A photo posted by Shane Smeltz (@therealsmeltz) on Dec 18, 2016 at 2:43pm PST

It will at least ease the burden on Fijian star Roy Krishna, who has netted seven of the club’s 13 goals from the opening 13 rounds.

But Phoenix are also looking to stiffen up their defence. They kept just their fourth clean sheet of the season in the stalemate with Adelaide on New Year’s Day, indicating they are making some strides in that area.

Lowe can only dream of a clean sheet for Glory, whose defensive struggles continue to plague them.

Only lowly Central Coast Mariners (28 goals) have conceded less than the men in purple (27), and if they are slightly off their game at nib, Smeltz, Krishna, Barbarouses, Finkler and co. will surely make them pay.

Encouragingly though, Glory have looked deadly going forward, especially since Diego Castro’s return from injury. The Spaniard provides the creative spark for Glory and it’s no surprise the likes of Taggart and Harold have been even more menacing with the canny Spaniard back in the XI.

Diego Castro

WHO’S BEEN IN THE SPOTLIGHT THIS WEEK?

Shane Smeltz. Who else? Could the Kiwi international be the man to spark Wellington’s season? A goal or two in this one would certainly help…and he might just chase down Victory’s Besart Berisha for the Hyundai A-League’s goals record.

FORM LINES (last five games)

Glory: DLLDD

Phoenix: LWDDD

PREDICTION

Perth Glory 3-2 Wellington Phoenix