Preview: Wellington Phoenix v Central Coast Mariners
It's all gone a little wrong for Wellington in the past two matches and what was a promising pre-season has quickly turned sour with successive heavy losses to Melbourne and Adelaide.
Date: Sunday September 14 Kick-off: 5:00pm local, 3pm AEST Venue: Westpac Stadium TV and Radio: Live & exclusive broadcast on Fox Sports 2 and Sky Sports 1. Hyundai A-League club radio broadcast partner is Radio Network (Wellington) 1035AM and Coast FM (Gosford) 96.3FM. To purchase tickets visit www.ticketek.co.nz
Head-to-head Three A-League meetings: Wellington - 0 win, Central Coast 3 wins
Previous meeting Wellington Phoenix 0, Central Coast Mariners 0, Round 21, January 2008
Results so far Wellington: Round 1: Wellington Phoenix 1, Queensland Roar 1, Westpac Stadium Round 2: Wellington Phoenix 2, Melbourne Victory 4, Westpac Stadium Round 3: Adelaide United 3, Wellington Phoenix 0, Hindmarsh Stadium
Central Coast: Round 1: Newcastle Jets 1, Central Coast Mariners 1, EnergyAustralia Stadium Round 2: Central Coast Mariners 2, Sydney FC 3, Bluetongue Central Coast Stadium Round 3: Queensland Roar 2, Central Coast Mariners 4, Suncorp Stadium
Analysis It's all gone a little wrong for Wellington in the past two matches and what was a promising pre-season has quickly turned sour with successive heavy losses to Melbourne and Adelaide. Ricki Herbert has been on international duty with the All Whites, who recorded two wins in World Cup qualifiers this week.
Shane Smeltz was in great touch, scoring four goals over the two matches to continue his terrific form from the Hyundai A-League. Smeltz has been the bright spot for the Phoenix again this year with three goals. He's not the prettiest striker around, but he's great at getting the ball in the back of the net. He is back after missing the Adelaide game through illness.
Unfortunately, that's not the problem for the Phoenix, who are struggling in defence having conceded seven goals in two games. Herbert has brought back Smeltz, Tim Brown, Ben Sigmund and Jeremy Christie into a squad of 19. Christie has played just 19 minutes this year and will be looking forward to getting back into it.
Central Coast has also been conceding some goals of late, five in the past two games, but has also been getting the job done up the other end. The 4-2 win over Queensland was a breakout game for Dylan Macallister, who could prove a very handy acquisition for Lawrie McKinna's side. Mile Jedinak's return was a positive one and the talented midfielder topped it off with a goal, while Matt Simon's good form has continued.
But it wasn't all good news for the Mariners in Brisbane with former Phoenix man, Ahmed Elrich's season ruined by a knee injury. He joins a medical room that already features Andre Gumprecht, Dean Heffernan and Greg Owens. Danny Vukovic has four more rounds to serve of his suspension.
Adrian Caceres is back in McKinna's squad along with Paul O'Grady, with one to be omitted. The Mariners are looking to continue their perfect record in A-League matches against Wellington having won all three matches last season. The Phoenix did beat them in the Pre-Season Cup, however.
Interestingly, McKinna has spent the past week with the New Caledonia team helping them in what proved an unsuccessful bid to beat Herbert's All Whites' side. Will that help him here? We'll have to wait and see.
Wellington Phoenix Squad 1. Mark PASTON (gk), 2. Jeremy CHRISTIE, 3. Tony LOCHHEAD, 4. Jon McKAIN, 5. Karl DODD, 6. Tim BROWN, 7. Leo BERTOS, 8. Vaughan COVENY, 9. Shane SMELTZ, 10. Michael FERRANTE, 11. DANIEL, 12. Richard JOHNSON, 13. Troy HEARFIELD, 15. Adam KWASNIK, 16. David MULLIGAN, 18. Ben SIGMUND, 20. Glen MOSS (gk), 21. Leilei GAO, 22. Andrew DURANTE (captain). * four to be omitted.
In. 6. Tim BROWN (promoted), 9. Shane SMELTZ (return from illness), 18. Ben SIGMUND (promoted), 2. Jeremy CHRISTIE.
Unavailable. Vince LIA (knee - season).
Central Coast Mariners Squad 4. Pedj BOJIC, 5. Bradley PORTER, 6. David D'APUZZO, 7. John HUTCHINSON, 10. Adrian CACERES, 11. Dylan MACALLISTER, 13. Paul O'GRADY, 15. Andrew CLARK, 16. Nigel BOOGAARD, 17. Matthew OSMAN, 18. Alex WILKINSON, 19. Matt SIMON, 22. Sasho PETROVSKI, 23. Mile JEDINAK, 30. Andrew REDMAYNE (gk), 40. Mark BOSNICH (gk) *one to be omitted.
In. 10. Adrian CACERES (Returns from Injury), 13. Paul O'GRADY (Promoted).
Out. 21. Ahmad ELRICH (Knee - Season).
Unavailable. 2. Andre GUMPRECHT (Knee - Indefinite), 8. Dean HEFFERNAN (Leg - Indefinite), 12. Greg OWENS (Hamstring - Indefinite), 20. Danny VUKOVIC (Suspended - 4 rounds).