Preview: Wellington Phoenix v WaiBOP Utd

Friday 12 December, 2014

For immediate release


Two teams with distinctly different form lines meet in the ASB Premiership on Saturday when Wellington Phoenix clash with WaiBOP United at Eden Park.

Playing before the Wellington Phoenix meet the Central Coast Mariners in the A-League at 5pm, and televised LIVE on Sky Sport 4, Andy’s Hedge’s Phoenix side enter Saturday’s clash in third place after winning three of their last four outings.

WaiBOP United, sitting bottom of the standings, are still looking for their first set of three points – having seen their victory over Wanderers SC overturned due to fielding an ineligible player.

Hedge says the plush surroundings of Eden Park won’t impact the team’s preparation but the early game of the Auckland doubleheader does give his team an opportunity in several respects.

“We’re going to treat it as another fixture in terms of what we’ve been working on with the players but it’s a great opportunity to play on a decent stage, live on TV and also being around the first team,” Hedge said.

Nearing the Christmas break, Hedge says the Phoenix programme for the league is kicking along well with the young players in the squad benefitting from the elevated level of competition. The trick now is working towards a full 90 minute performance.

“We’re really pleased with how things are progressing, especially having the team mimic how the first team are playing.

“When you consider the age of the kids, it’s done wonders for them. What we need to do now is build bigger blocks of consistent play through 90 minutes.

“At the moment, we might be sublime for 10 minutes and then not keep the ball for toffee for the next 10.”

Hedge says he expects WaiBOP United to be firing for Saturday’s clash as they go about trying to earn their first win.

“Their coach Peter Smith was down watching us last week at Hawke’s Bay and he’s a diligent coach so I’m sure they’ll be trying to stop us playing.

“They’ll also be playing on the same stage so I’m sure they’ll be champing at the bit to get out there and have a go at us. It’s got all the ingredients to be a great match.”

Meanwhile, WaiBOP United coach Peter Smith is relishing the opportunity of taking his side to one of the country’s most legendary sporting arenas.

“At the start of the season we didn’t really expect to be walking out at a venue like Eden Park, so it’ll be an exciting fixture to be part of,” said Smith before he began his final preparations for the match.

“Good settings bring out the best in good players. We’ve got some good players here who have performed well so far, but without a lot of luck. Taking on a club like the Phoenix at a place like Eden Park will bring out the best in the lads.”

Smith also said he’s using all the challenges his side has faced this season to help channel his side’s focus for the rest of the season.

“You couldn’t really make it up, what’s gone on, and we’re only four games in!” said Smith. “But that’s football. I’ve told the lads to go out and play with a chip on their shoulder.

“We have to play with personality and attitude. The only people who can help us now are ourselves.”

ASB Premiership 2014-15 – Round 7

Wellington Phoenix v WaiBOP United
Saturday 13 December, 2.15
Eden Park, Auckland
LIVE coverage on SKY Sport 4

Referee: Isaac Trevis

Wellington Phoenix
Form: W-L-W-W

Squad (from): 23. Matthew Ridenton, 28. Xavier Pratt, 30. Oliver Sail (GK), 31. Andrew Blake, 32. Tamupiwa Dimario, 33. James McGarry, 36. Cherbel Khouchaba, 37. Nathaniel Hailemariam, 38. Justin Gulley, 39. Joe Bell, 40. Marcel Kampman, Gianni Bouzoukis, Louis Evans, Merlin Luke-Miny

Coach: Andy Hedge

WaiBOP United
Form: L-L-L-D

Squad (from):  1. James McPeake (GK), 3. Aaron Scott, 4. Robbie Greenhalgh, 5. Sam O’Regan, 7. Mark Jones, 8. Chad Coombes, 10. Federico Marquez, 14. Fergus Neil, 17. Reid Drake, 18. Alexis Varela, 19. Wade Molony, 20. Danyon Drake (GK), 21. Jerahl Hughes, 22. Craig Wylie, 23. Thomas Probert, 24. Jarrod Young
Coach: Peter Smith