Hyundai A-League preview: Phoenix v Glory

A flying high Perth Glory rack up the frequent flyer points for a Distance Derby in Auckland against a rejuvenated Phoenix, fresh from a stunning display in Brisbane, aiming to make it two wins from two.

MATCH DETAILS

Saturday, 4 March 2017

Wellington Phoenix v Perth Glory

QBE Stadium (Auckland), New Zealand

Kick-Off: 7:35PM (Local) (5:35PM (AEDT))

Referee: Stephen Lucas

Assistant Referee 1: Simon Lount

Assistant Referee 2: Anton Shchetinin

Fourth Official: Matthew Conger

TV Broadcast: Live coverage on Fox Sports 505 from 5.00pm (AEDT) and Sky Sport 4 (New Zealand)

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

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

To purchase tickets visit www.aleague.com.au

Wellington Phoenix squad: 1.Glen MOSS (gk), 4.Roly BONEVACIA, 5.Ryan LOWRY, 6.Dylan FOX, 7.Gui FINKLER, 8.Alex RODRIGUEZ, 9.Kosta BARBAROUSES, 11.Hamish WATSON, 12.Adam PARKHOUSE, 15.James McGARRY, 17.Vince LIA, 19.Tom DOYLE, 20.Lewis ITALIANO (gk), 21.Roy KRISHNA, 22.Andrew DURANTE (c), 23.Matthew RIDENTON, 25.Sarpreet SINGH, 99.Shane SMELTZ

**two to be omitted**

Gui Finkler will miss two games for Wellington Phoenix.

Ins: 4.Roly BONEVACIA (promoted), 5.Ryan LOWRY (promoted), 7.Gui FINKLER (returns from paternity leave), 20.Lewis ITALIANO (gk) (returns from injury)

Outs: 2.Jacob TRATT (suspended – 1 match), 15.James McGARRY (omitted)

Unavailable: 10.Michael McGLINCHEY (knee– 1-2 weeks)

Perth Glory squad: 3.Marc WARREN, 5.Rhys WILLIAMS, 6.Dino DJULBIC, 7.Joel CHIANESE, 8.Rostyn GRIFFITHS (c), 9.Andy KEOGH, 11.Richard GARCIA, 13.Nick FEELY (gk), 14.Chris HAROLD, 15.Brandon WILSON, 16.Joe MILLS, 17.Diego CASTRO, 19.Josh RISDON, 20.Aryn WILLIAMS, 22.Adam TAGGART, 23.Kosta PETRATOS, 28.Joe KNOWLES, 33.Liam REDDY (gk)

**two to be omitted**

Perth Glory moved into third spot with a 2-0 win over Western Sydney Wanderers.

Ins: 11.Richard GARCIA (promoted), 23.Kosta PETRATOS (promoted)

Out: Nil

Unavailable: 2.Alex GRANT (foot – 2 weeks), 4.Shane LOWRY (quad – 1 week), 10.Nebo MARINKOVIC (groin – 1 week), 18.Mitch OXBORROW (foot – 2 weeks)

BLUFFER’S GUIDE

Auckland’s QBE Stadium is the venue for this Distance Derby which has taken on even greater significance thanks to crucial wins for both sides last weekend.

Just when it looked like Wellington’s season was headed for the scrapheap, their finals hopes are alive again thanks to their gritty 2-1 win in Brisbane last Saturday.

At the end of a tumultuous week – where three players were dropped for disciplinary issues – the side’s spirited response indicates you can’t put a line through the Nix just yet.

In fact, should they pick up all three points they’ll find themselves in the top six – for a couple of hours at least.

But that will be easier said than done against a Glory side peaking at just the right time.

On the back of their clinical 2-0 disposal of the Wanderers last week, Kenny Lowe’s troops are suddenly up to third and in the box seat to finish with a home Elimination Final.

Rhys Williams rises for the ball in Perth Glory's 2-0 win over Western Sydney Wanderers.

Perth has been a joy to watch of late, with their big guns Castro, Taggart, Keogh, Griffiths, Risdon and Williams all in exceptional form.

Kenny Lowe's boys won both previous meetings between the sides this season as well – and the last four in total - although both of the victories in the 2016/17 Season came on home soil.

Nix have recalled dumped trio Bonevacia, Doyle and Lowry but may stick with the side that beat Brisbane. 

Jacob Tratt is suspended but Gui Finkler returns after missing two weeks due to the birth of his first child.

Glory is likely to be unchanged as they chase a fourth win in five matches.

OPTA DATA

Hyundai A-League Round 22 stats preview

ROUTE TO GOAL

Glory has found their goal-scoring mojo at just the right time, with 12 in their last four matches.

It’s no surprise Diego Castro has been the architect of most of those, including both assists against the Wanderers last Saturday night.

If he displays the same sort of form we’ve come accustomed to over the last couple of months then Wellington’s defence will be in for a torrid 90 minutes.

Strikers Adam Taggart (10 goals) and Andy Keogh (nine) have benefitted from Castro’s class, while Chris Harold’s pace should strike fear into the Phoenix back four.

Wellington’s goals have mostly come from Fijian speedster Roy Krishna. What coach Buckingham really needs is the other attackers to start chipping in.

Wellington Phoenix players celebrate a goal in their 2-1 win over Brisbane Roar.

Shane Smeltz bagged his second goal since his return to the club last weekend, while Kosta Barbarouses (three goals) is starting to show the type of form we became accustomed to at Victory and Roar.

Finkler’s return is a huge plus and will give them a bit more creativity in the middle of the park.

WHO’S BEEN IN THE SPOTLIGHT THIS WEEK?

Bonevacia, Doyle and Lowry. The trio are back in the squad after serving a club-imposed one-game ban for off-field indiscretions. Can they make it up to their teammates with a big showing to keep their finals charge alive?