Preview: North Queensland v Wellington
North Queensland will have to defend against a Phoenix side that will come out all guns blazing, and whether it can do that with the manpower available remains to be seen. What we do know is, the Fury won't go down without an almighty fight and there's a bloke called Fowler playing in green who's due a goal as well.
Date: Saturday October 17 Kick-off: 7:30pm AEST, 10:30pm (NZDT) Venue: Dairy Farmer Stadium TV and Radio: Live & exclusive broadcast on Fox Sports 1 and Sky Sports 1. Hyundai A-League club broadcast partner is The Radio Network 1035 AM (Wellington). To purchase tickets visit www.ticketek.com.au
Head-to-head Played 1: Draws: 1
Previous meeting Wellington Phoenix 1, North Queensland Fury 1, Westpac Stadium, Round 7, September 2009.
Past five matches: North Queensland: Round 6: Sydney FC 0, North Queensland 1, SFS Round 7: Wellington 1, North Queensland 1, Westpac Stadium Round 8: North Queensland 0, Adelaide United 2, Dairy Farmers Stadium Round 9: Perth Glory 1, North Queensland 1, ME Bank Stadium Round 10: Central Coast 1, North Queensland 1, Bluetongue Stadium
Wellington Phoenix Round 5: Wellington Phoenix 1, Adelaide United 1, Westpac Stadium Round 6: Melbourne Victory 1, Wellington Phoenix 1, Etihad Stadium Round 7: Wellington Phoenix 1, North Queensland Fury 1, Westpac Stadium Round 8: Wellington Phoenix 0, Central Coast Mariners 0, Westpac Stadium Round 9: Gold Coast United 0, Wellington Phoenix 0, Skilled Park
Analysis: If ever there was a game destined for a stalemate it's this one. Wellington recorded five draws in a row leading up to Round 9, while three of the Fury's last five matches have also ended even stevens. But with the Phoenix having enjoyed a week off during the international break and the Fury's defence suffering another massive blow, anything could happen this time around at Dairy Farmers Stadium.
North Queensland, though, simply can't take a trick, particularly with its defence. A quick look at the unavailable section sees Karl Dodd sidelined for at least the next five matches with a knee injury, while Jacob Timpano (hamstring), Shane Stefanutto (knee) and Scott Wilson (knee) all have long-term issues, the latter two likely to miss the rest of the season. Last week's knee injury to Wilson was a bitter blow for the former Dunfermline defender, who's produced several telling performances at the heart of the Fury defence in Dodd and Timpano's absence.
However, after a poor start to the campaign, the Fury have really shown their mettle. Indeed, the club's only lost once in its last five matches and has proven repeatedly it will fight to the end. Against the Glory two weeks ago, it may have been down a man for the second half after Ufuk Talay's dismissal, but the club still managed to keep Perth's attacking threat to one goal while scoring an equaliser themselves. Last week, despite conceding the second-fastest goal in league history in just the 15th second against the Mariners, while also losing Wilson, North Queensland responded with a Daniel McBreen header. And, of course Phoenix boss Ricki Herbert won't need reminding of the last-kick equaliser the Fury scored against his team in Round 6.
Ian Ferguson's men have been boosted, though, by Talay's return from suspension while Jeremy Brockie has been promoted to a squad that will be cut by two come game-time.
For the Phoenix, coach Herbert will be hoping the international break will signal a change of fortunes for his side as it languishes in eighth position on the table with just one win to its credit this term, albeit with a match in hand. The results haven't been for want of trying however, with the Phoenix one of the more attacking sides in the competition, although it continues to lack that clinical edge it possessed in shooting when Shane Smeltz led the line last year.
Although the club had last week off, many of its players didn't as they were representing New Zealand against Bahrain in a team also coached by Herbert. As a result, the Phoenix certainly won't be the fresher team as many of its squad endured a tough road trip to the Middle East, followed by the flight to Townsville. Michael Ferrante and Jiang Chen have also been promoted at the expense of the injured Adrian Caceres (hamstring - one week) and the omitted Costa Barbarouses.
The next fortnight, though, looms as a particularly important one for both sides as they attempt to set up a big finish to the campaign and get some winning momentum. For the Fury, wins in the next two home games against Wellington and Perth will be vital for taking it off the bottom of the table. But North Queensland still has to ensure it can defend against a Phoenix side that will almost certainly come out all guns blazing, and whether it can do that with the manpower available remains to be seen. What we do know is, the Fury won't go down without an almighty fight and there's a bloke called Fowler playing in green who's due a goal as well.
North Queensland squad: 1.Paul HENDERSON (GK), 2.Robbie MIDDLEBY, 3.Chris TADROSSE, 6.Ufuk TALAY, 7.Jason SPAGNUOLO, 9.Robbie FOWLER (c), 10. Jeremy BROCKIE, 11.David WILLIAMS, 12. Jack HINGERT, 14.Chris GROSSMAN, 15.Fred AGIUS, 18.James ROBINSON, 19.Daniel MCBREEN, 20.Justin PASFIELD, (RGK), 21.John TAMBOURAS, 24. Dyron DAAL. 23. Rostyn GRIFFITHS,
*two be omitted*
In: Ufuk TALAY (returns from suspension), Jeremy BROCKIE (promoted)
Out: Osama MALIK (not selected), Paul KOHLER (not selected)
Unavailable: Jacob Timpano (hamstring - indefinite), Karl DODD (Knee -5 weeks), Shane STEFANUTTO (knee - indefinite), Scott WILSON (knee - indefinite)
Wellington Phoenix squad: 1. Mark PASTON (gk), 2. Manny MUSCAT, 3. Tony LOCHHEAD, 6. Tim BROWN, 7. Leo BERTOS, 8. Paul IFILL, 9. Chris GREENACRE, 10. Michael FERRANTE, 11. DANIEL, 12. Jiang CHEN, 13. Troy HEARFIELD, 17. Vince LIA, 18. Ben SIGMUND, 20. Reece CROWTHER (gk), 22. Andrew DURANTE (c) *one to be omitted
In: Michael FERRANTE (promoted), Jiang CHEN (promoted)
Out: Adrian CACERES (hamstring - 1 week), Costa BARBAROUSES (omitted)
Unavailable: Jon McKAIN (quad - 1 week)