Back three on backburner

WELLINGTON Phoenix’s back three defensive option may be tucked away against Adelaide United on Friday night but Phoenix skipper Andrew Durante says the idea has plenty of merit.

WELLINGTON Phoenix-s back three defensive option may be tucked away against Adelaide United on Friday night but Phoenix skipper Andrew Durante says the idea has plenty of merit.

Durante, Jade North and Ben Sigmund were the last line in Sunday-s 2-2 draw with Melbourne Heart at Westpac Stadium as Phoenix coach Ricki Herbert experimented with the new defensive formation in place of a more conventional back four.

Herbert successfully employed a three-man back line with the New Zealand team at the World Cup and is a fan of the attacking options it provides. Defensively things didn-t go to plan against Heart but the Phoenix were still able to grab a gutsy draw in their first test of the new formation.

While Durante believes a back three option is a good one to have in the Phoenix-s repertoire, he says it is likely the Phoenix will revert to a traditional four-man defensive line at Hindmarsh Stadium as they attempt to hand the Reds their first defeat of the season.

“We need to adapt to it (a back three) and obviously we need to gel a bit better. Although the three of us have played three at the back at various times in our careers we hadn-t played it together till the game against Heart.

“It does take some getting used to because it-s not simply about where the back three are, it-s also about where everyone in the team is positioned at certain times on the field.

“It-s definitely something we can use during the season or whenever Ricki feels it-s appropriate. There are positives in that it gives us a lot more options up front and we should be much more dangerous higher up, whereas a back four is much more solid but less attacking.

“There are pros and cons to both but we should be good enough to be able to play both formations.”

Durante said the most pressing issue was eliminating defensive lapses.

“It was disappointing to concede the way we did against Heart – a penalty and some poor defending inside the box letting us down. It seems to be the story of our season so far, silly mistakes costing us games.

“We-ve got big task on Friday against the league leaders, who are undefeated, and it-s going to be a great challenge for us.”

The Phoenix were last team to beat Adelaide in a Hyundai A-League competition fixture (1-0 in Christchurch in December last year) but the New Zealand-based club is yet to beat the Reds at Hindmarsh.

Durante says it-s Adelaide – not the Phoenix – who will be feeling the heat at home on Friday night.

“We-ll go there with the mindset that we-ve got nothing to lose. No one-s beaten them this year, there-s no pressure on us and we-ll go out and try to be the first team to knock them off.”

The Phoenix have gone to Adelaide with the same 15-man squad from the match against Melbourne Heart.

Wellington Phoenix squad: 1. Mark PASTON (gk), 2. Manny MUSCAT, 4. Nick WARD, 6. Tim BROWN, 7. Leo BERTOS, 8. Paul IFILL, 9. Chris GREENACRE, 11. DANIEL, 13. Troy HEARFIELD, 14. Mirjan PAVLOVIC, 15. Jade NORTH, 17. Vince LIA, 18. Ben SIGMUND, 19. Danny VUKOVIC (gk), 22. Andrew DURANTE (c)

In: Nil

Out: Nil

Unavailable: Tony LOCHHEAD (groin – 6 weeks)