Preview: North Queensland Fury v Wellington Phoenix


North Queensland Fury v Wellington Phoenix Monday 27th December 7:15pm Fury are giving fans the ultimate Christmas present. Entry to the match against Phoenix is ABSOLUTELY FREE! Don-t miss out.

It-s been a long, hard year for North Queensland Fury-s supporters, and, with the cash-strapped club-s future still in the hands of the gods, it might be a tough start to 2011 too.

Therefore, the club are offering a big thank you to the Green Army for their loyalty, while also trying to encourage more fans to get on board in support of the fight for survival, by offering FREE ADMISSION to the home match against Wellington Phoenix. Outstanding Hyundai A-League action on your doorstep for free? Merry Christmas indeed!

So, the question of what to do with your Monday night is an absolute no-brainer. Get down to Dairy Farmers Stadium and give your full support to a team that have shown real signs that, on the football pitch at least, things are picking up.

Okay, so before the tough midweek trip to the Central Coast, they may have lost three of the last four games, but these matches were insanely hard encounters against Brisbane, Adelaide and in-form Newcastle Jets.

To look at the bigger picture shows that Fury are certainly competing as the season moves into its final third. Indeed, a fantastic win over Sydney FC moved the Greens off the bottom of the ladder and, depending on other results, they-ll go into the last weekend of 2010 in ninth place. A win over Wellington Phoenix will guarantee that Franz Straka-s men start the New Year well away from the foot of the ladder.

Last Wednesday at Dairy Farmers Stadium, Fury ground out that important 1-0 win over Sydney thanks largely to an early Christmas present from Ivan Necevski, who allowed an innocuous-looking free-kick straight through his arms for the 70th minute winner.

The win brought with it so many positives, not least the clean sheet, the hard-fought nature of the performance and the psychological advantage of getting one over their rivals at the wrong end of the ladder. Such spirit will serve them well in the dog-fight at the foot of the table.

As Fury fight for their future, they will be buoyed by the news that one of the finest performers in the Hyundai A-League this season, 24-year-old Scouser Mark Hughes, has stated that he is prepared to give the club every chance to secure their future before making a decision on where he will play next season.

His clear desire to stay at Fury will come as great news to the Green Army, as he has been one of their most consistent players in a turbulent few months. He is sure to get an even warmer reception than usual on Monday night.

Fury-s opponents, while not suffering the same off-field issues, are also not having the best of times on the pitch this season. It-s not that they aren-t winning games. It-s just that they can-t find any kind of consistency whatsoever. Remarkably, the side from New Zealand haven-t won two games in a row all season.

At home, they have been fantastic, while, away, they have been massively disappointing. So, although they will have given their confidence a shot in the arm with their Christmas stuffing of Newcastle Jets last weekend, that doesn-t necessarily mean they will translate such stunning home form into away-day joy. Phoenix have only won once away all season - a 1-0 triumph in Perth - and therefore find themselves only on the very edge of the top six rather that snugly enveloped by it.

Ricki Herbert will be without talismanic front-man Paul Ifill in Townsville. However, while the Fever Zone feared the worst when the Englishman was stretchered off early in the 4-0 win over Newcastle, x-rays showed no signs of a fracture and the key player could be back in action in about six weeks. That-s just about perfectly timed for him to be up and running as the Grand Finals approach.

This head-to-head is really difficult to call. Fury are struggling to keep their heads above water, while Wellington hate playing away from their homeland. The three points are there for the taking, but who will seize the initiative and grab them with both hands? Get along to Dairy Farmers Stadium and find out. It-s cracking Hyundai A-League action - and it-s FREE. Be a part of it!