Two teams desperate for points to keep their flickering Hyundai A-League Finals Series hopes alive meet in New Zealand’s capital. Who will stay in the mix for the six and who might drop out of contention?
Sunday, 26 March 2017
Westpac Stadium, Wellington
Kick-Off: 7:00PM (Local) (5:00PM AEDT)
Referee: Jonathan Barreiro
Assistant Referee 1: Glen Lochrie
Assistant Referee 2: Mark Rule
Fourth Official: Alex King
TV Broadcast: Live coverage on Fox Sports 505 from 5.00pm (AEDT)
Radio Broadcast: ABC Grandstand Online & via the ABC Radio Mobile App – A-league Live
Join the conversation on Twitter using the hash-tag #WELvNEW
To purchase tickets visit www.aleague.com.au
Wellington Phoenix squad: 4.Roly BONEVACIA, 5.Ryan LOWRY, 6.Dylan FOX, 7.Gui FINKLER, 8.Alex RODRIGUEZ, 9.Kosta BARBAROUSES, 11.Hamish WATSON, 12.Adam PARKHOUSE, 13.Marco ROSSI, 17.Vince LIA (c), 20.Lewis ITALIANO (gk), 23.Matthew RIDENTON, 24.Logan ROGERSON, 25.Sarpreet SINGH, 26.Jack-Henry SINCLAIR, 27.Liam WOOD, 28.Oliver WHYTE, 30.Oliver SAIL (gk)
**two to be omitted**
Ins: 5.Ryan LOWRY (promoted), 24.Logan ROGERSON (promoted), 25.Sarpreet SINGH (promoted), 26.Jack-Henry SINCLAIR (promoted), 27.Liam WOOD (promoted), 28.Oliver WHYTE (promoted), 30.Oliver SAIL (gk) (promoted)
Outs: 1.Glen MOSS (gk) (international duty), 19.Tom DOYLE (international duty), 21.Roy KRISHNA (international duty), 22.Andrew DURANTE (international duty), 99.Shane SMELTZ (international duty)
Unavailable: 10.Michael MCGLINCHEY (international duty), 14.Alex RUFER (international duty), 15.James MCGARRY (glandular fever – 4 weeks), 16.Louis FENTON (groin – 12 weeks)
Newcastle Jets squad: 2.Daniel MULLEN, 3.Jason HOFFMAN, 4.Nigel BOOGAARD (c), 5.Ben KANTAROVSKI, 6.Steven UGARKOVIC, 7.Andrew HOOLE, 8.Mateo POLJAK, 9.Aleksandr KOKKO, 10.Wayne BROWN, 13.Ivan VUJICA, 15.Andrew NABBOUT, 18.MA Leilei, 19.Morten NORDSTRAND, 20.Jack DUNCAN (gk), 22.Lachlan JACKSON, 28.John KOUTROUMBIS, 29.Joel ALLWRIGHT, 50.Tomislav ARCABA (gk)
**two to be omitted**
Ins: 3.Jason HOFFMAN (returns from suspension), 29.Joel ALLWRIGHT (promoted), 50.Tomislav ARCABA (gk) (returns from injury)
Outs: 30.Pierce CLARK (gk) (omitted)
Unavailable: 1.Ben KENNEDY (gk) (achilles – season), 16.Nicholas COWBURN (international duty), 21.Daniel ALESSI (knee – season)
Phoenix are severely depleted through international call-ups, with six players away with the New Zealand national side, while leading goalscorer Roy Krishna will lead Fiji in World Cup qualifiers against the Kiwis.
Furthermore, Wellington’s confidence was severely dented at Spotless Stadium last week when they were very much second-best against Western Sydney in a crucial six-pointer.
Two months ago, the Jets looked every inch a top six contender, but after picking up just two points from the last available 18, their chances of being involved in the Finals Series are hanging by a thread.
A draw won’t do either side much good, so expect an open attacking game as both teams chase all three points to keep their respective seasons alive.
* Wellington Phoenix are undefeated in their last two clashes with Newcastle after having lost each of their three meetings prior.
* Newcastle have snatched two wins in their last four visits to Westpac Stadium, though they average just 0.7 goals scored per game at the venue in A-League history.
* Wellington Phoenix have kept four clean sheets in their last six games at Westpac Stadium, although they conceded five when they hosted Melbourne City in their most recent fixture there.
* Newcastle Jets are winless in their last seven games on a Sunday (D4, L3), having not won a Sunday fixture since Round 2 this season.
* Wellington Phoenix boast a shooting accuracy of exactly 50% this season, the only team in the competition to boast an on-target ratio of at least one-in-two.
* Newcastle have scored four goals in the 15 minutes leading into half-time when playing away from home this season; only Brisbane Roar (8) have scored more in that period on the road.
ROUTE TO GOAL
Without Krishna, Phoenix lose their most potent attacker, and they will also be without the Hyundai A-League’s second all-time leading goalscorer Shane Smeltz, who is with the New Zealand side.
In a positive for Wellington though, Kosta Barbarouses has been left out of the All Whites squad and will likely form an attacking quartet with Gui Finkler, Roly Bonevacia and Hamish Watson, all of who present very real – and quite different – threats to the Jets rearguard.
Finkler has scored in consecutive games, including a trademark free-kick against Western Sydney last Sunday.
Andrew Nabbout supplied Newcastle’s equaliser the last time these two met on Boxing Day and has chalked up eight goals this season, twice as many as his previous best in a Hyundai A-League campaign.
Finnish striker Aleksandr Kokko opened his Jets account in the recent F3 derby and has started the last three matches, while Andrew Hoole will be keen to break a five-game goalscoring drought.
WHO’S BEEN IN THE SPOTLIGHT THIS WEEK
Newcastle Jets have forged a link with Chilean Premier Division club Audax Italiano, with a view to bringing some of their young players to Hunter Stadium on loan.
FORM LINES (last five games)
Wellington Phoenix: LLWDL
Newcastle Jets: DLDLL
Wellington Phoenix 2 Newcastle Jets 1