Preview: Perth Glory v Wellington Phoenix

The expectation is that the Glory should claim victory here - they have all their stars back, they're buzzing and they're at home.

Date: Saturday 7 April, 2012 Kick-off: 7.30pm AEST, 5.30pm local Venue: nib Stadium

Head-to-head Played: 16 Wins: Perth 6, Wellington 7, Draws: 3

Previous encounter Perth 1, Wellington 0, 8 January 2012

History: They might be over 5000km apart, but there's not a great deal separating these two sides in terms of their results, with the Phoenix laying claim to only a slender advantage in the head-to-head stakes.

However, it's the Glory who have had the upper hand this season with two wins from their three fixtures - one at nib Stadium, the other at the Ring of Fire in Wellington. On top of that the Phoenix have only won twice in seven attempts in Western Australia.

Form: Past five matches: Perth: WWLWW Wellington: WDLLW

Summary of form: The Glory have every right to claim the mantle of the A-League's dark horses - since New Year's Eve 2011, they've played 16 times and lost on just three occasions.

Their most recent defeat was a disastrous 3-0 loss to the now-extinct Gold Coast United, but that was rightly chalked up as a mere blip on their radar and in their last two matches - both at home - they've moved on. First, to end the regular season, they destroyed Victory 4-2, and then a week later put three goals past the red and white half of Melbourne to advance to this stage of the finals.

In the grand scheme of things Wellington's season has been a massive success, but Ricki Herbert would probably be a little unhappy with the way they finished up. Losing their last two games to Victory and the Mariners, the 'Nix gave up any chance of third spot and as a result have only themselves to blame for this long-haul flight to Perth.

Two late goals from Sydney FC's Joel Chianese gave them a fright last weekend in the first round of finals action, but a penalty from Paul Ifill killed off any chance of a Sky Blues comeback and the Kiwis went through 3-2 winners.

Match Committee: Only a handful of long-term casualties will be unavailable for this one - Wellington's Lucas Pantelis (knee) has been out all season, while Glory duo Evan Berger (hamstring) and Chris Coyne (Achilles) will also watch from the sidelines. Apart from that, both sides will be just about at full strength.

Danger men: Shane Smeltz - Seven goals in two games. Smeltz is on fire. It didn't just happen out of thin air, though - since Liam Miller returned to the Glory midfield, his combination with Steven McGarry has made the Kiwi goal machine's job a lot easier.

Still, scoring is easier said than done, and Perth's marquee man gets the big dollars because he can do it at the big moments. Good luck, Phoenix.

Paul Ifill - Whenever Ifill is on song, so too are Wellington. The 32-year-old has been their driving force all season, but will need to pull a couple more rabbits out of his hat in Perth if the New Zealand side are going to go any deeper into the finals series.

At the end of the day… The expectation is that the Glory should claim victory here - they have all their stars back, they're buzzing and they're at home. But to write Wellington off would be stupid.

People have been doing that for the past two years and yet under Ricki Herbert, they've developed a never-say-die attitude that has helped them grind out results when all odds were against them. The Phoenix are not a young or developing team.

They're made up of a bunch of veterans who have been there, done that and want to do it one more time before hanging up the boots. Their fighting spirit is undeniable. The quality of Paul Ifill and Dani Sanchez can't be questioned. But is it enough for them to overcome the grueling trip across Australia and stop a rampant Perth side? Probably not.

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