Preview: Adelaide United v Wellington Phoenix

Wellington have scored just four goals across all their trips to South Australia, and have only tasted victory on one occasion, which was in February this year.

Date: Friday, 30 December 2011 Kick-off: 8.00pm AEDT, 7.30pm local Venue: Hindmarsh Stadium

Head-to-head Played 14: Wins: Adelaide 6, Wellington 3, Draws: 5

Previous encounter Wellington 1, Adelaide 1, 19 November 2011

History: It's probably one of the tamer rivalries in the A-League and at Hindmarsh, it's been pretty one-sided. Wellington have scored just four goals across all their trips to South Australia, and have only tasted victory on one occasion, which was in February this year - a Chris Greenacre goal doing the business for the 'Nix. Last time they took on the Reds, a late Nigel Boogaard own goal robbed Adelaide of a hard-earned win at Eden Park.


Past five matches: Adelaide: DLDLD Wellington: LWWLW

Summary of form: It's been a tumultuous month for the Reds, and the centrepiece of it was the sacking - or rather, demotion and then resignation - of Rini Coolen two weeks ago. Now rock bottom of the league after they were leapfrogged by Gold Coast, they haven't tasted victory since early November - but there were signs of life in their 2-2 draw with Sydney, which kicked off John Kosmina's second stint as coach. There were chances to win the match, but United fans will gladly take a draw away from home as a ship-steadier.

Wellington have been up and down for much of the season, but their most recent result - a super-impressive 5-2 thumping of Newcastle - was perhaps their best performance thus far.

Mirjan Pavlovic and Dani Sanchez each bagged a double as the 'Nix took a hapless Jets side apart. It was their third win in four games, and it sees them sitting pretty in fifth spot on the ladder - although they've played 13 matches, one more than most teams in the competition.

Match Committee: United stoppers Nigel Boogaard and Daniel Mullen are fit to resume their place in the starting XI - and Kosmina has a selection quandary on his hands, with Milan Susak (hamstring) in doubt and Jon McKain's future in the air after he was stripped of the captaincy.

Wellington talisman Paul Ifill and American utility Alex Smith won't make the trip to SA, but Nick Ward is over his injury hiccup and should play. Tony Lochhead should too, having recovered from his groin strain, and his inclusion will likely prompt Ricki Herbert into a re-shuffle, with Manny Muscat expected to shift to right-back and Vince Lia into the middle of the park.

Danger men:

Bruce Djite - Perhaps the arrival of former coach Kosmina could spring new life into the career of this one-time Socceroo. In his first stint at Adelaide he showed plenty of promise, but his move to Turkey didn't pan out the way he'd have liked and it stagnated his development. Returning to the A-League with Gold Coast last season and the Reds this term, Djite established himself as a grafting, battling striker, but with his side rock bottom of the league right now he isn't finding the net as often as he used to. Maybe with the familiar voice of Kossie back, barking instructions from the sidelines like days of old, we may see Bruce kick on to another level.

Dani Sanchez - With Paul Ifill injured for at least another week, Spanish playmaker Sanchez has taken on even greater responsibility in terms of starting attacks. It's a burden he's shown to be more than comfortable with. His keen eye for goal is well noted, but Sanchez - a product of nouveau-riche La Liga club Malaga CF - presents Wellington with another dimension in attack. Not only does he receive the ball in dangerous positions, he invariably makes the right decisions when he does - a rare trait in the A-League.

At the end of the day…

The John Kosmina revolution got off to a solid start last weekend. The manner of their tough 2-2 draw in Sydney - gritty, determined - was exactly what the side was missing under Coolen.

A week later and he's continued to stamp his authority at the club - Jon McKain is no longer captain, Eugene Galekovic is his replacement, and there are rumours he's been experimenting with a new formation and some interesting changes in personnel. Ahead of his return to Hindmarsh, Stage 2 of Kossiemania is in full gear.

How it pans out against the Phoenix will be interesting to see. Ricki Herbert's side is, of course, notoriously good at grinding out draws and frustrating their opposition away from home - but in Adelaide, their record is poor.

Their current form, however, is not - Wellington's big triumph over Newcastle was particularly impressive given they were without star man Paul Ifill, who is their usual source of spark. We're not expecting the new-look Adelaide to perform miracles against the Kiwis, but we are expecting them to take the game by the scruff of the neck. It's that mentality that has been drilled into them by Kosmina over the past week or so, and if it comes off they might not remain at the foot of the table for long.