McMaster joins Phoenix

Wellington Phoenix have wasted little time in bringing in a goal-keeping replacement for injured Reece Crowther with Griffin McMaster due to arrive in the New Zealand capital on Thursday afternoon.

Wellington Phoenix have wasted little time in bringing in a goal-keeping replacement for injured Reece Crowther with Griffin McMaster due to arrive in the New Zealand capital on Thursday afternoon.

The 27-year-old will join Ricki Herbert's side on a temporary contract while Crowther recovers from a fractured rib which is expected to take at least eight weeks.

McMaster played 20 games for the Brisbane Roar between 2007 and 2009 but was released at the end of last season.

He has been plying his trade with Victorian Premier League side Oakleigh more recently and only came to the Phoenix's attention in the past day or so.

"He's had good A-League experience and it was important to get somebody of that level," said Herbert.

"It was a name that came through 24 hours ago and he was very keen to make it work. He will come in as an injury replacement player for as long as we need."

While the Phoenix welcome another newcomer to their group, striker Dylan Macallister is preparing to face his old team-mates at Westpac Stadium this weekend.

The 28-year-old spent two years with the Central Coast Mariners, scoring five goals in 36 appearances for the Gosford club.

"It's going to be a special one for me but I'm just going to prepare like any other game and concentrate on what I've got to do," he said.

"I've got a lot of good mates [at the Mariners]. I spent two years there but I'm with the Phoenix now and I feel very happy here.

"Hopefully the result will come and if we take the three points on Sunday it will be a very special one for me."

Macallister said the trip to Wellington was one most Australian teams did not enjoy, particularly given the impressive unbeaten run of 20 A-League games that the Phoenix have forged at Westpac Stadium since October 2008.

"This is one of the games you never look forward to. It's a long trip and I know the Mariners are getting here on Saturday which is only the day before the game.

"We have a great home record but we have to put that in the back of our mind and just focus on the job at hand. It's a tough game coming here and it's nice to be on the Phoenix side of the field this year."

After being exposed on defence by Gold Coast in the 3-3 draw in the rain last week, especially from the set-piece, Herbert said the players had been left in no doubt what was expected against Central Coast who were traditionally strong in that area.

"In [Daniel] McBreen, Matt Simon and (Alex) Wilkinson they've got players that can challenge. They've always been strong and good in the air," said Herbert.

"We're going to have to be better. We didn't defend those crosses well last week and that's been put pretty clearly to the team.

"At times we didn't react quick enough and we got punished for it. It's a big wake-up call but I think it's a good wake-up call to get so early in the season."

Although the Phoenix showed some defensive frailty against Gold Coast in atrocious conditions they had no trouble scoring at the other end with Chris Greenacre bagging a brace and Paul Ifill getting the other.

Despite not getting on the score sheet against Miron Bleiberg's men, Macallister was happy with his contribution in his first game in Phoenix colours.

"It was a typical target man's game that one. There were a lot of balls up high and heading a lot of balls. I didn't have one chance all game," he reflected.

"But I'll take it. We scored three goals. I helped Greenie get his second one and when I came off the field I was happy.

"I was a bit disappointed that the game got away from us in the end but on a personal note I'm happy with my performance and looking to build this weekend and hopefully a couple of balls fall to me.

"Me and Greenie have done well together and I know Ifill and [Leo] Bertos cause a lot of problems out wide. If we all stick to our jobs and do what's asked of us we'll be successful."