Preview: Wellington v Brisbane

This could prove a season-defining match for both clubs. A win to either will give them a real chance of making the finals, but a defeat could see them lose touch with the battle for a playoff spot.

Date: Saturday January 9 Kick-off: 7:00pm NZDT, 5:00pm AEDT, 4:00pm AEST Venue: Westpac Stadium, Wellington

Head-to-head 8 A-League meetings: Wins: Brisbane 5, Wellington 0, Draws: 3

Previous Meeting Brisbane Roar 4, Wellington Phoenix 1, Suncorp Stadium, November 2009

Past five matches: Wellington Phoenix: Round 16: Brisbane Roar 4, Wellington Phoenix 1, Suncorp Stadium Round 17: Wellington Phoenix 1, Melbourne Victory 1, Westpac Stadium Round 18: Wellington Phoenix 0, Sydney FC 1, FMG Stadium Round 20: Adelaide United 1, Wellington Phoenix 1, Hindmarsh Stadium Round 21: Central Coast Mariners 0, Wellington Phoenix 2, Bluetongue Stadium

Brisbane Roar: Round 17: Perth Glory 1, Brisbane Roar 1, ME Bank Stadium Round 18: Brisbane Roar 0, Adelaide United 1, Suncorp Stadium Round 19: Brisbane Roar 2, North Queensland 0, Suncorp Stadium Round 20: Central Coast 2, Brisbane Roar 3, Bluetongue Stadium Round 21: Gold Coast United 5, Brisbane Roar 1, Skilled Park

Analysis: Wellington will be looking to notch is first-ever win over Brisbane and strengthen its claims for a top-six spot when it hosts the Roar in the Round 22 opener at Westpac Stadium on Saturday night.

Just one point separates these two teams on the table going into this clash, with Brisbane holding a slender advantage in sixth spot, one ahead of the Phoenix. Wellington's challenge this year has been built on a strong home record, with just one defeat in New Zealand in nine home matches this season. That loss came at the hands of top-side Sydney in Palmerston North before Christmas, while Ricki Herbert's men haven't lost a game at Westpac Stadium since October 2008, when the Roar defeated them 1-0.

An excellent 2-0 away win over Central Coast, just their second on the road this season, has re-ignited Wellington's finals ambition after going four matches without a win. The main man in that match, as he has been in all of the club's best performances this season, was Paul Ifill, who scored two goals.

The Barbadian has scored in seven games this season and the Phoenix have won five and drawn two of them. It stands to reason that when Ifill is a danger around the box, the Phoenix are on song.

But the poor record against Brisbane, with five losses and three draws in eight attempts, must be a concern. As recently as November 29, Brisbane put Wellington to the sword with a 4-1 success at Suncorp Stadium. In that match, Manny Muscat was sent off with 30 minutes left, and the Roar responded by scoring the final three goals of the match. Wellington has been boosted by the signing of a couple of experienced Hyundai A-League players in the past fortnight, with Liam Reddy crossing from Brisbane before Christmas and now veteran French/Ivorian striker Eugene Dadi arriving from Perth.

Dadi is one of three players included for this match, with Diego and Chris Greenacre also into the extended squad with Michael Ferrante making way.

Brisbane's tumultuous season took another strange turn during the festive season. The club not only endured a 5-1 humiliation to local rivals Gold Coast, but skipper Craig Moore left the club in less than amicable circumstances.

Coach Ange Postecoglou is clearly intent on putting a broom through the dressing room in order to create the club he wants and Moore, Reddy and Charlie Miller were not part of his plans. Danny Tiatto has been omitted for this match and doubts remain about his future in Brisbane. Henrique is out with a hamstring injury.

Andrew Packer, David Dodd, Matt Mundy and Isaka Cernak have been included as Brisbane looks to keep on track for the finals.

Postecoglou will be hoping that the heavy defeat to Gold Coast was a speed bump after the club put together back-to-back wins for the first time this season over North Queensland and Central Coast Mariners prior to Christmas. Sergio Van Dijk was the key man in those wins, scoring three goals.

Brisbane goes into the match with the third best away record in the competition having won three, drawn three and lost three of its nine matches on the road this season.

This could prove a season-defining match for both clubs. A win to either will give them a real chance of making the finals, but a defeat could see them lose touch with the battle for a playoff spot.

Wellington Phoenix squad: 40.Liam REDDY (gk), 2.Manny MUSCAT, 3. Tony LOCHHEAD, 4. Jon McKAIN, 5. DIEGO, 6. Tim BROWN, 7. Leo BERTOS, 8. Paul IFILL, 9.Chris GREENACRE, 11. DANIEL, 13. Troy HEARFIELD, 14. Adrian CACERES, 15. Eugene DADI, 17. Vince LIA, 18. Ben SIGMUND, 20. Reece CROWTHER (gk), 21. Marco ROJAS, 22. Andrew DURANTE (c), 23. Costa BARBAROUSES, *four to be omitted*

In: DIEGO (promoted), Chris GREENACRE (returns from injury), Eugene DADI (new signing)

Out: Michael FERRANTE (promoted)

Unavailable: Mark PASTON (knee - 5 weeks)

Brisbane Roar squad: 1. Matt HAM (gk), 2. Andrew PACKER, 3. Luke DEVERE, 5. Josh McCLOUGHAN, 6. David DODD, 7. Michael ZULLO, 8. Massimo MURDOCCA, 9. Sergio VAN DIJK, 11. REINALDO, 12.Matthew MUNDY, 14. Adam SAROTA, 15. Matt McKAY, 19. Isaka CERNAK, 20. Griffin McMASTER (gk), 21. Tommy OAR, 22. Ivan FRANJIC *one to be omitted*

In: Andrew PACKER (promoted), David DODD (promoted), Matt MUNDY (promoted), Isaka CERNAK (promoted)

Out: HENRIQUE (hamstring injury), Craig MOORE (omitted), Danny TIATTO (omitted)

Unavailable: Nil