Preview: Adelaide United v Wellington Phoenix

The honeymoon period is over for John Kosmina. Despite a dream start to his second stint as Adelaide Unitedboss, the novelty has worn off and he's back to the same old circus most managers deal with on a daily basis.

Date: Friday 3 February 2012 Kick-off: 8.00pm AEDT, 7.30pm local Venue: Hindmarsh Stadium

Head-to-head Played: 15 Wins: Adelaide 7, Wellington 3, Draws: 5

Previous encounter Adelaide 2, Wellington 0, 30 December 2011

History: Adelaide are something of a bogey side for the Phoenix, who have only conquered the South Australians on three occasions. None of them came this year - in their two meetings so far there was a 1-1 draw in November, followed by Adelaide's triumph the day before New Year's Eve.

It was John Kosmina's first win since returning to the helm at Hindmarsh Stadium. Bruce Djite and Antony Golec may have scored the goals but Dario Vidosic was the reason why they happened, providing the assist for the first and forcing a wonderful stop from busy Phoenix shotstopper Tony Warner for the second, before Golec tapped in the scraps.


Past five matches: Adelaide: DDLDL Wellington: WLWWW

Summary of form: The honeymoon period is over for Kossie. Despite a dream start to his second stint as Reds boss, the novelty has worn off and he's back to the same old circus most managers deal with on a daily basis.

Their past five appearances have not yielded a single victory - indeed, their last match, a 3-0 loss at home to Perth Glory, was the most disappointing of the lot. Shane Smeltz, Steven McGarry and Liam Miller were on the spot to leave Adelaide's finals hopes teetering on the brink of oblivion.

Meanwhile, it's all coming up Milhouse for the second-placed Wellington Phoenix. Never has a New Zealand side sat so high on the Hyundai A-League table at this stage of the season.

Most had them down as certainties to miss the top six but as it stands, they're above - and in better form than - the once-invincible Brisbane Roar and the exuberant Melbourne Heart. What makes their most recent run even more impressive is that two of their wins came in Australia, which has never been a happy hunting ground for them.

Match Committee: There's still a few injury problems in Adelaide. Former captain Jon McKain (knee) is out for six weeks, Spase Dilevski (groin) for two and Milan Susak (hamstring) for one. Zenon Caravella and Evgieny Levchenko (both groin) must overcome fitness tests to take their place in United's squad.

Meanwhile, whether Wellington's Manny Muscat will play is again unclear.

He's with his Melbourne-based wife, who is pregnant and due to give birth any day now, but whether he makes a quick dash to Hindmarsh remains to be seen.

The New Zealand side does have an advantage, though, as they do not have to give any players up to the Qantas Australian Under-23 for their qualification duties. Adelaide does, and they'll miss three good players - Antony Golec, Daniel Mullen and Mark Birighitti - for the next little while.

Danger men: Dario Vidosic - Rumours in the press suggest champions Brisbane were interested in the services of Adelaide's marquee man, who himself used to play for the Roar in the early days of the league. It's not hard to see why they were keen.

Vidosic has at least gone some way towards filling the void left by Adelaide United legend Marcos Flores, whose invention and spark in midfield was enough to earn him the Johnny Warren Medal last season. The part-time Qantas Socceroo's five assists for the season is the equal second-best number in the competition.

Tony Lochhead - Most football fans would be in agreement that Wellington's ability to defend and frustrate sides is as good as anyone else in the league, as it has pretty much since the day the club was born. So why do their defenders attract such little individual praise?

Lochhead, for instance, will play his 100th game for the Phoenix, and he's a model of professionalism and consistency. The Kiwi international rarely puts in a bad showing, and for his sake here's hoping he doesn't start with his milestone match on Friday night.

At the end of the day… Adelaide cannot afford to lose here, or else they could be locked in a battle for the wooden spoon with lowly Gold Coast. After the other United snatched a 1-1 draw in Tasmania with Melbourne Victory, their hopes of lifting themselves off the bottom of the ladder are feint, but they're still there.

Just around the corner is a trip to the Glitter Strip for the Reds, and if they drop points to the Phoenix that match could have a massive impact on which team is "awarded" the mythical wooden utensil at the end of the campaign. Adelaide will want to avoid that, and so a win over Wellington is crucial - but the Kiwis are in some form at the moment.

With Paul Ifill running amok, Dani Sanchez playing him in, Alex Smith giving them another dimension in midfield and their rearguard, as always, rarely leaking, they look formidable. But they're human, and this is their third away game out of their last four fixtures. Draw, then.