With Ernie Merrick’s shock resignation, it's been a tumultuous week in Wellington. How will the Nix respond in Hamilton under interim coaches Greenacre and Buckingham?
Saturday, 10 December 2016
Wellington Phoenix v Central Coast Mariners
Waikato Stadium, Hamilton, New Zealand
Kick-Off: 7:35PM (Local) (5:35PM (AEDT))
Referee: Matthew Conger
Assistant Referee 1: Simon Lount
Assistant Referee 2: Mark Rule
Fourth Official: Ben Abraham
TV Broadcast: Live coverage on Fox Sports 505 from 5.00pm (AEDT) and Sky Sport 4 (New Zealand)
Radio Broadcast: EON Sports Radio (eonsportsradio.com), Coast FM 96.3
Join the conversation on Twitter using the hash-tag #WELvCCM
To purchase tickets visit www.aleague.com.au
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, 14.Alex RUFER, 16.Louis FENTON, 17.Vince LIA, 19.Tom DOYLE, 20.Lewis ITALIANO (gk), 21.Roy KRISHNA, 22.Andrew DURANTE (c), 23.Matthew RIDENTON
**two to be omitted**
Ins: 14.Alex RUFER (promoted), 19.Tom DOYLE (returns from injury)
Unavailable: 10.Michael McGLINCHEY (knee – 5-6 weeks)
Central Coast Mariners squad: 1.Ivan NECEVSKI (gk), 2.Storm ROUX, 3.Scott GALLOWAY, 4.Jacob POSCOLIERO, 5.Harry ASCROFT, 6.Blake POWELL, 7.Fabio FERREIRA, 8.Nick MONTGOMERY (c), 9.Roy O’DONOVAN, 11.Connor PAIN, 12.Trent BUHAGIAR, 13.Kwabena APPIAH, 14.Adam BERRY, 16.Liam ROSE, 20.Paul IZZO (gk), 21.Michael NEILL, 22.Jake McGING, 25.Ryan PETERSON
**two to be omitted**
Ins: 4.Jacob POSCOLIERO (promoted), 8.Nick MONTGOMERY (returns from injury), 13.Kwabena APPIAH (promoted)
Outs: 17.Josh BINGHAM (omitted)
Unavailable: 10.Mickael TAVARES (ankle – 2 weeks), 19.Jacques FATY (knee – 1 week), 23.Jake ADELSON (ACL – indefinite)
It’s been a dramatic week across the Tasman with Merrick calling it quits, with long-time assistant Chris Greenacre and Des Buckingham taking the reins.
Sometimes a change can spark an immediate response. Who knows?
A home clash – although at a new venue in Hamilton – against a Mariners side coming off a 4-1 loss last weekend could be just the tonic.
An under-strength Phoenix got the better of Central Coast 2-0 just four weeks ago in Canberra, and will fancy their chances of repeating the dose, regardless of the turmoil.
It will be interesting to see what if any changes the new coaching team make to the starting XI, with left-back Tom Foyle available again from injury.
The Mariners’ hot-and-cold season continued with that loss to the Wanderers last Saturday which saw them drop out of the top six.
It was a very inexperienced side coach Paul Okon put out, with striker Roy O’Donovan the only player over the age of 25.
That will change on Saturday with skipper Nick Montgomery returning to the squad, adding some steel to the midfield but Mickael Tavares returned to France this week to continue his rehab for an ankle problem.
ROUTE TO GOAL
Despite boasting a star-studded front-five, Wellington has struggled for goals so far in the 2016/17 Season.
Flying Fijian Roy Krishna has been their main outlet, scoring five of their six goals, including a brace in the win over the Mariners in Canberra.
He’ll be ruing the missed penalty against the Reds last weekend. But it will be more about getting end product from the likes of Kosta Barbarouses and Gui Finkler, who so far have failed to live up to their reputations after their high-profile moves from Melbourne Victory.
Big striker Hamish Watson could force his way into the starting side after bullying the young Mariners defence in the previous meeting, when the Nix were without a clutch of All Whites.
Despite their inconsistency, the Mariners have shown some encouraging signs going forward at different stages over the first two months.
The speed of Connor Pain and Trent Buhagiar out wide is their biggest asset.
Along with Fabio Ferreira, the Mariners have pace to burn.
They’ll hope Roy O’Donovan packs his shooting boots as well after he failed to convert a couple of excellent opportunities last time out.
WHO’S BEEN IN THE SPOTLIGHT THIS WEEK?
Ernie Merrick. He exited with class and plenty of admirers.
FORM LINES (last five games)
Wellington Phoenix 3-2 Central Coast Mariners