Regular season games don’t come much bigger than this as Wellington host Sydney FC in a shoot-out for second place on the Hyundai A-League ladder.
Wellington Phoenix v Sydney FC
Westpac Stadium, Wellington
Sunday, 26 April 2015
Kick-Off: 5:00 PM (Local) (3:00 PM AEDT)
Wellington Phoenix: 1.Glen MOSS (GK), 2.Manny MUSCAT, 4.Roly BONEVACIA, 5.Michael BOXALL, 7.Kenny CUNNINGHAM, 8.Alex RODRIGUEZ, 9.Nathan BURNS, 10.Michael MCGLINCHEY, 11.Kwabena APPIAH, 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)
***two to be omitted***
Ins: 11.Kwabena APPIAH (promoted), 19.Tom DOYLE (promoted)
Unavailable: 3.Joel GRIFFITHS (knee injury, ruptured ACL – indefinite)
Sydney FC: 1.Ivan NECEVSKI (GK), 2.Seb RYALL, 5.Matt JURMAN, 6.Nikola PETKOVIC, 8.Milos DIMITRIJEVIC, 9.Shane SMELTZ, 11.Bernie IBINI, 13.Christopher NAUMOFF, 14.Alex BROSQUE (c), 16.Alex GERSBACH, 18.Peter TRIANTIS, 20.Vedran JANJETOVIC (GK), 21.Marc JANKO, 23.Rhyan GRANT, 25.Aaron CALVER, 26.Jacques FATY, 27.Mickael TAVARES, 34.Robert STAMBOLZIEV
***two to be omitted***
Ins: 6.Nikola PETKOVIC (return from injury), 27.Mickael TAVARES (return from injury)
Unavailable: 3.Sasa OGNENOVSKI (hip – indefinite), 7.Corey GAMEIRO (knee – indefinite), 17.Terry ANTONIS (knee – 1 week), 19.Nick CARLE (knee – indefinite), 22.Ali ABBAS (knee – indefinite)
TV Broadcast: Live coverage on FOX SPORTS 505 from 3.00pm (AEST) and Sky Sport 3 (New Zealand)
Radio Broadcast: Online/ABC Radio Mobile phone app and via Radio Sport Extra (NZ) online and via I-Heart Radio app.
Referee: Strebre Delovski
A top-two finish is priceless for so many reasons, not least historically – all nine previous A-League winners finished first or second in the regular season.
Less than a month ago at the same venue, Sydney FC shot out to a 3-0 half-time lead which was never relinquished as Graham Arnold got his tactics spot-on.
Phoenix – without Nathan Burns and Michael McGlinchey – were unable to find any goal-scoring edge or passing fluidity and Sydney went home with all three points.
It’s impossible to over-state just how much is riding on this match with a free-pass into the semi-finals up for grabs.
These two may well meet again during the finals, meaning a win for either would not only secure home advantage for that potential clash, but give them a psychological edge as well.
OPTA DATA STATS
Sydney FC are undefeated away from home this season with nine wins and four draws, including winning their past seven on the road. In away games in 2014/15, they’ve outscored their opponents 31 – 13.
Despite conceding eight goals in their last three games in Wellington, the Phoenix are second only to Melbourne City FC in keeping clean sheets at home this season.
Phoenix’s 0-3 home defeat to Sydney FC in March ended a run of 11 successive games (home and away) in which they’d scored against them. It was Sydney’s second victory in their last three trips to Wellington, following a run of five straight defeats there.
ROUTE TO GOAL
Despite combining for 29 goals this season, Golden Boot leaders Marc Janko (16) and Nathan Burns (13) have been less prolific recently with neither finding the net in their last four matches.
International duty meant neither played in Sydney’s 3-0 win over Wellington a month ago, but Burns bagged a brace in the 2-0 win in Sydney just before Christmas. Meanwhile, Wellington is one of only two sides (along with Adelaide United) who Janko hasn’t scored against in his debut A-League season.
Both sides also have impressive support casts to their main men.
Sky Blues captain Alex Brosque has been in superb form with four goals in the last two games, while Bernie Ibini is enjoying arguably his best A-League season.
Phoenix super-sub Kenny Cunningham took his career A-League goals tally into double figures last weekend, while Roy Krishna, Roly Bonevacia and Michael McGlinchey always need to be closely watched by opposition defenders.
WHO’S BEEN IN THE SPOTLIGHT THIS WEEK?
Key men Nikola Petkovic and Mickael Tavares will return from their respective injuries to be available for Sydney FC in this key clash.