Preview: Wellington Phoenix v Adelaide United
Fourth hosts third in a tantalising match-up between two sides equal on points. A real six-pointer looms here at Lower Hutt, Phoenix's temporary home ground which should be rocking for this one.
Wellington Phoenix v Adelaide United
Hutt Recreation Ground, Lower Hutt
Saturday, 7 March 2015
Kick-Off: 5:00 PM (Local) (3:00 PM AEDT)
Wellington Phoenix: 1.Glen MOSS (GK), 3.Joel GRIFFITHS, 4.Roly BONEVACIA, 5.Michael BOXALL, 7.Kenny CUNNINGHAM, 8.Alex RODRIGUEZ, 9.Nathan BURNS, 10.Michael McGLINCHEY, 13.Albert RIERA, 15.Jason HICKS, 16.Louis FENTON, 17.Vince LIA, 18.Ben SIGMUND, 19.Tom DOYLE, 20.Lewis ITALIANO (GK), 21.Roy KRISHNA, 22.Andrew DURANTE (c)
***one to be omitted***
Ins: 16.Louis FENTON (returns from injury), 19.Tom DOYLE (promoted)
Outs: 2.Manny MUSCAT (suspended)
Unavailable: 23.Matthew Ridenton (knee injury – 4 weeks)
Adelaide United squad: 1.Eugene GALEKOVIC (GK) (c), 2.Michael MARRONE, 3.Nigel BOOGAARD, 4.Dylan McGOWAN, 7.PABLO SÁNCHEZ, 8.ISAÍAS, 9.Sergio CIRIO, 10.Marcelo CARRUSCA, 11.Bruce DJITE, 14.Cameron WATSON, 16.Craig GOODWIN, 17.Awer MABIL, 18.Jimmy JEGGO, 19.Miguel PALANCA, 21.Tarek ELRICH, 24.Bruce KAMAU, 30.John HALL (GK), 32.Nathan KONSTANDOPOULOS
***two to be omitted***
Ins: 3.Nigel BOOGAARD (returns from injury), 8.ISAÍAS (returns from suspension), 30.John HALL (GK) (promoted), 32.Nathan KONSTANDOPOULOS (promoted)
Outs: 15.Ben WARLAND (not selected), 20.Paul IZZO (GK) (not selected)
Unavailable: 5.Osama MALIK (ankle – 1-2 weeks), 23.Jordan ELSEY (knee – indefinite)
TV Broadcast: Live and exclusive coverage on FOX SPORTS 505 from 3.00pm (AEDT)
Radio Broadcast: Online/ABC Radio Mobile phone app, Radio Sport Wellington (93.7FM) and Radio Sport Extra online and via I-Heart Radio app
Referee: Ben Williams
Both previous meetings this season have been high on drama; an injury-time winner from Sergio Cirio gave Adelaide all three points in round five, while a New Year's Eve double from the soon-to-depart Tyler Boyd secured the Phoenix just their third ever win in Adelaide in round thirteen.
At the back, both sides have been very good this season. In fact, Adelaide boasts the best defensive record in the league, and with Nigel Boogard set to return, will be even harder to break down.
Ernie Merrick though has a defensive quandary with highly experienced fullback Manny Muscat suspended. He can at least welcome back Louis Fenton from a concussion-enforced break, but has a decision to make over who starts at left-back in Muscat's absence.
Opta Data stats
Both sides have scored in eight of the last nine Hyundai A-League meetings between these two clubs, while Adelaide United have scored in all but one of their last fourteen A-League matches, a run that includes two games against Wellington Phoenix.
The Phoenix are unbeaten in their last eight A-League home matches, winning five and drawing three, while keeping four clean sheets. Adelaide have won just one of their last eight games in New Zealand, but that came on their last visit – a 1-0 win in round 25 last season.
Route to goal
The Phoenix rediscovered their goal-scoring mojo against Victory last week, in part through an unlikely source. Michael Boxall (starting for just the second time this season) headed in their second equaliser - his first A-League goal - before calmly supplying the pass for Nathan Burns to break his own goal-scoring drought and provide the winner. Phoenix fans will hope Burns can now recapture the form which saw him strike fear into opposition defences before the Asian Cup break.
Adelaide’s goals have been shared around with Sergio Cirio, Bruce Djite, Pablo Sanchez and Marcelo Carrusca all chipping in. The fact they don’t rely on one focal point in attack, and can threaten from all areas of the pitch has allowed them to consistently grab goals – and points – this season.
Who’s been in the spotlight this week?
Phoenix coach Ernie Merrick inked a three-year contract extension on Thursday, keeping him in Wellington until the end of the 2017/18 A-League season.