Preview: Wellington Phoenix v
Two-For-One Fun at Westpac this Sunday! Pre-purchase a ticket and get another one FREE
Wellington Phoenix v North Queensland Fury Sunday 13th February 5:00pm
It-s that time of year again, when Wellington Phoenix prepare themselves for another thrilling finals campaign, so get along to the Cake Tin and show Ricki Herbert-s players the kind of epic support that will give them a massive boost as they hunt for silverware.
Fever Zone, sing from the first whistle to the last! And what an incentive there is to attend the game on Sunday! Fans buying a ticket from the Phoenix Store in Hunter Street or a Ticketek outlet will get another of the same value FREE. You can-t ask for better value than that!
Having been on the periphery of the top six for much of the campaign and with away form that has been the cause for some concern, Phoenix will enter the play-offs as underdogs, but last weekend-s amazing display in Adelaide will send them into the shake-up in massively high spirits. Their first ever win at Hindmarsh Stadium put them on the brink of being mathematically certain of a finals place and proved two things.
Firstly, that they have nothing to fear when taking on their top six rivals. There is every chance they-ll come up against The Reds again in the competition, so what a psychological boost the win would have given them. Secondly, it also showed that they can win away from home when they need to, something which is vital if they are to emerge victorious in a few weeks.
This time last year, Phoenix wound up their regular season and geared themselves up for the finals with a resounding 3-0 win over Central Coast Mariners in front of over 14,000 fans. This time round, a similar result would send another large crowd absolutely crazy.
A win against Fury would certainly be expected for Wellington on Sunday, as their already impressive home form has been taken to the next level recently. The last time they played at Westpac, a first-half goal from Dylan Macallister was enough to give them a crucial 1-0 win over 10-man Newcastle.
While that in itself doesn-t seem anything particularly special, it was their fifth home triumph on the bounce, which is a new club record. For the visit of Fury, Ricki Herbert will be pleased to have key players Ben Sigmund and Manny Muscat back after they were forced to sit out two-match suspensions.
On top of their fine home form and the return of key players, Wellington will also be confident of three points on Sunday because they are unbeaten in the two games against the Queensland club this season. In the last meeting between the sides it was, once again, Dylan Macallister-s late strike that equalised Chris Payne-s early opener and secured a share of the spoils.
When Fury visited New Zealand in September, they left empty-handed thanks to a flying start from the home team. Chris Greenacre and Leo Bertos had Phoenix 2-0 ahead within the first 15 minutes and, despite a spirited flight back from the visitors and a goal from Mark Hughes, Wellington held on for three points.
Fury cannot avoid ending the season in last place, but they-ll still be putting in a full-blooded performance as they look to end this tumultuous Hyundai A-League 2010/11 season on a high note, wave goodbye to retiring legend Ufuk Talay and give a bit of cheer to their hugely loyal supporters.
On Tuesday night they took on the champions Brisbane Roar at Skilled Park, in a fixture that was rescheduled and relocated from the weekend, and, despite suffering a seventh straight loss, put in the kind of spirited display that suggests they won-t lay down for their hosts on Sunday.
It-s the last home game of the regular season for Wellington Phoenix, so get yourself along to Westpac and prepare to make unparalleled noise as Ricki Herbert-s get ready for the tension and drama of the play-offs. Come on Fever Zone, create another fantastic atmosphere!