Preview: Wellington Phoenix v Perth Glory
The Glory are coming off three consecutive losses and are fully aware Westpac Stadium on a Sunday afternoon is nigh on the toughest place in the league to re-discover that winning feeling.
Date: Sunday November 8 Kick-off: 5:00pm NZST, 12:00pm AWST Venue: Westpac Stadium TV and Radio: Live & exclusive broadcast on Fox Sports 2 and Sky Sports 1. Hyundai A-League club broadcast partner is The Radio Network 1035 AM (Wellington) and 6PR (Perth) 882AM. To purchase tickets visit www.ticketek.co.nz
Head-to-head Played 7: Wins: Wellington 4, Newcastle 2, Draws: 1
Previous meeting Wellington Phoenix 2, Perth Glory 1, Westpac Stadium, Round 2, August 2009
Past five matches: Wellington Phoenix: Round 9: Gold Coast United 0, Wellington Phoenix 0, Skilled Park Round 11: North Queensland 1, Wellington Phoenix 1, Dairy Farmers Stadium Round 12: Wellington Phoenix 6, Gold Coast United 0, Westpac Stadium Round 13: Sydney FC 3, Wellington Phoenix 1, Sydney Football Stadium Round 10: Wellington Phoenix 3, Newcastle Jets 0, Westpac Stadium
Perth Glory: Round 9: Perth Glory 1, North Queensland Fury 1, ME Bank Stadium Round 10: Perth Glory 1, Adelaide United 0, ME Bank Stadium Round 11: Gold Coast United 2, Perth Glory 1, Skilled Park Round 12: North Queensland Fury 2, Perth Glory 1, Dairy Farmer's Stadium Round 13: Perth Glory 1, Melbourne Victory 2, ME Bank Stadium
Analysis: The Phoenix are in fine fettle, having found their scoring mojo over the last three matches and hitting the back of the net 10 times. The Glory on the other hand are coming off three consecutive losses and are fully aware Westpac Stadium on a Sunday afternoon is nigh on the toughest place in the league to re-discover that winning feeling.
The one advantage Perth may have is that, despite the long trip, the Glory should be better rested than Wellington after the Phoenix played a midweek catch-up fixture against Newcastle. But Glory coach Dave Mitchell is well aware this could work either way as Wellington proved too good for Newcastle on Wednesday night in a 3-0 result that could have been more emphatic. Whether the New Zealanders will be sluggish as they head into a third game in eight days, or simply brimming with confidence will be the great unknown for Mitchell, who's almost certain to be poring over videos of Wellington's 6-0 Gold Coast demolition right as you read this.
It seems incredible that just a fortnight ago, Wellington had scored just 10 goals for the season. In the last three matches, it has scored that amount again and has found the clinical edge up front to match its hard work ethic. United's defence, admittedly undermanned at the time, simply wilted under the continual attacks from lightning Leo Bertos, Paul Ifill and Chris Greenacre. Ifill in particular had a field day that afternoon and his general creativity will be very dangerous against the Glory. Added to the mix for Ricki Herbert is the fact midfielder Tim Brown is scoring goals while youngster Costa Barbarouses showed he's up to the challenge by setting up two goals against Newcastle.
Of course, in between the two big wins, Wellington lost 3-1 to Sydney away as it came up against a very solid back four and an on-fire Alex Brosque. Perth will be looking to repeat the dose with its very experienced line-up but Mitchell will be desperately hoping to weed out the little errors that have conceded so many goals. Indeed, in the last three matches, most of the goals conceded have been the result of someone neglecting their defensive duties. This is probably selling short the abilities of Shane Smeltz, Robbie Fowler and Carlos Hernandez, who worked hard to capitalise on these opportunities but really, retreating from Hernandez and allowing him to take a free shot from the edge of the box is inviting trouble. Mitchell is well aware of this and he's called on his players to step up their mental application, for Wellington has more than its fair share of creative forwards to take advantage of the slightest lapse.
The Glory, though, have been significantly boosted by the return from illness of striker Branko Jelic, who missed the Melbourne game. Indeed, this is the first match since the club's win over Adelaide that Mitchell has been able to field his first-choice line-up. Jelic will more than likely start on the pitch relegating Eugene Dadi to the bench, while Scott Bulloch has also been included in the extended squad. Herbert, meanwhile, has kept his options open at selection, bringing in Diego, Michael Ferrante, Jiang Chen, David Mulligan and Marco Rojas to a squad that will be cut by five. Herbert is obviously being wary in regards to how his players pull up from Wednesday night, but the most significant inclusion could be experienced goalkeeper Mark Paston, who returns from a one-match absence with a hip injury.
Wellington Phoenix squad: 1. Mark PASTON (gk), 2. Manny MUSCAT, 3. Tony LOCHHEAD, 5. DIEGO, 6. Tim BROWN, 7. Leo BERTOS, 8. Paul IFILL, 9. Chris GREENACRE, 10. Michael FERRANTE, 11. DANIEL, 12. Jiang CHEN, 13. Troy HEARFIELD, 14. Adrian CACERES, 16. David MULLIGAN, 17. Vince LIA, 18. Ben SIGMUND, 20. Reece CROWTHER (gk), 21. Marco ROJAS, 22. Andrew DURANTE (c), 23. Costa BARBAROUSES
*five to be omitted*
In: Mark PASTON (gk, return from injury), DIEGO (promoted), Michael FERRANTE (promoted), Jiang CHEN (promoted),David MULLIGAN, Marco ROJAS
Out: Jonathan GOULD (gk, short-term injury cover)
Unavailable: Jon McKAIN (quad - indefinite)
Perth Glory Squad: 1.Tando VELAPHI (gk), 3.Jamie COYNE, 4.Andy TODD, 6.Chris COYNE, 7.Jacob BURNS (c), 10.Wayne SRHOJ, 11.Branko JELIC, 12.Scott NEVILLE, 13.Scott BULLOCH, 14.Eugene DADI, 16.Adriano PELLEGRINO, 17.Todd HOWARTH, 19.Naum SEKULOVSKI, 20.Aleks VRTESKI (gk), 21.Mile STERJOVSKI, 23.Andrija JUKIC, 26.Ludovic BOI
*two to be omitted*
In: Branko JELIC (return from illness), Scott BULLOCH (promoted)
Unavailable: Jimmy DOWNEY (knee - 1 week), Brent GRIFFITHS (hamstring - 4 weeks), Jamie HARNWELL (knee - 5 weeks), Victor SIKORA (hamstring - 2 weeks)