Phoenix, Roar set for pivotal clash

Title contenders collide on Sunday when high-flying Wellington Phoenix welcome champions Brisbane Roar to Westpac Stadium.

Title contenders collide on Sunday when high-flying Wellington Phoenix welcome champions Brisbane Roar to Westpac Stadium.

The Phoenix are enjoying a purple patch of form with four wins on the trot and lead the Roar, who knocked off leaders Central Coast 2-0 on Saturday, in second place by a point.

Both can lay claim to second spot and the double chance in the finals with a win, but a slip up could invite fourth-placed Perth, who sit a further point behind Brisbane, into the fold.

Wellington's run has seen them account for Gold Coast, Newcastle Jets, Melbourne Heart and most recently Adelaide, making them the form side in the league and the player at the heart of much of it is Paul Ifill.

Brisbane are finding their feet too after a string of losses in the middle of the season following their record-breaking run and there would be no better way to reassert their title credentials than back-to-back wins against the league's top two.

The champions have found their vigor once more and the win over the Mariners, which ended their 15-game unbeaten run, will do the Roar a world of confidence.

Central to their resurgence and absent for much of their struggles was playmaker Thomas Broich.

The German, considered the heartbeat of the side, has played a major part in each of the four games since his return against Sydney in January.

Coincidentally, Henrique returned that day as well and so it appeared did Brisbane's good fortunes. The duo came on as second-half substitutes after layoffs to help guide Brisbane to a miraculous 2-1 comeback win, courtesy of an injury-time double.

Since Broich's return, Brisbane boast two wins, a draw and a loss and more importantly, are playing with the kind of fluidity that saw them stretch their unbeaten run to an unprecedented 36 matches.

Besart Berisha seems to have found his goal scoring touch with Broich playing once again in behind him.

So prolific earlier in the season, Berisha endured a baron run more or less when the team did but has scored in three of the four games since the German's re-introduction.

Whether it be Broich's creativity in the final third or Ifill's daring run and lethal finishing, both will play key roles for their respective sides when they meet on Sunday.

Ifill has been in devastating form in recent weeks, scoring goals and creating chances as well.

The Barbadian bagged a brace in Wellington's 3-1 win over Melbourne Heart and created the opener for Tim Brown in their 2-1 win over Adelaide last Friday.

His constant willingness to run at defenders in one-on-one situations should serve as a reminder to Brisbane of his threat.

Only a refereeing blunder denied him what was a stonewall penalty late in the win over Adelaide.

Plenty will be on the line on Sunday and if neither should win, chasers Perth can move up to second with a win over Sydney.