The Finals – Wellington

Sydney FC are a choice opponent for the Phoenix.

Wellington Phoenix
Regular season position: 4th
Points: 40

Finals Opponent: Sydney FC
Head to head: Phoenix 7 wins, Sydney FC 8 wins, 1 draw
Last five: LLWWW

The story so far v Sydney FC

One thing this fixture almost guarantees is a result at the end of 90 minutes. Only once in their previous 16 encounters have these two teams finished the match with a draw and that was way back in November of 2007.

This year it-s all been about the Phoenix dominating the Sky Blues, even being the only team to defeat Vitezslav Lavicka-s surging side, handing them their only loss in the final seven weeks of the season.

For the Nix, Paul Ifill has been the star against Sydney FC, scoring a goal in all three matches this season. Ifill scored early in the first game and again the final meeting, but when they beat Sydney 4-2 in Wellington his goal was the icing on the cake.

Conversely Wellington would do well to be wary of Sydney FC-s Brazilian marksman Bruno Cazarine. Cazarine has struck two out of the three goals they have conceded against the Sky Blues.

This season Wellington have scored 2-1 and 4-2 wins at home and a 1-0 win away against Sydney, that-s 7 goals to three for those counting, which includes Tim Brown-s goal of the season candidate, where he chipped Liam Reddy from an audacious range.

Key Player: Mark Paston – The now veteran goalkeeper has improved throughout the season having now fully recovered from a raft of major injuries. Sublime last time they played Sydney, Paston has been pulling some sensational saves out of late and has won this site-s ‘Save of the Week- four times, including the last two weeks.

Despite his form the Nix have fallen from grace of late, but he will be one of the big key-s to their finals success.

X Factor: Paul Ifill – The best import in the league in the eyes of many, Ifill is the Phoenix-s go-to man in attack. The former Barbados international has a happy knack of producing something special when the Kiwi side most need it, be it scoring goals or creating them.

Key Stats: The Phoenix have scored the least goals of any team in the top six with 34, making Paston-s role all the more important.

Bunnies: Three wins straight this season and a close record overall make their finals bunny Sydney FC. They-re a choice opponent for the Kiwis.

Bogey side: Beware the Mariners, Phoenix fans. The boys from the Central Coast have won the last five matches between the teams, pulling the stripey wool over your eyes on a regular basis. In those matches the Mariners have netted 10 times, compared to the meagre two goals the Nix have scored.

Straight Shooting: Not long ago the Phoenix and Ricki Herbert were talking a top two finish and making noises about how they should be eligible for the AFC Champions League.

Defensive lapses cost them severely against the Mariners and the 0-0 draw with Melbourne Victory was hardly inspiring. The Phoenix will need to lift to beat a determined Sydney side.

Tickets to the knock out semi-final, including print at home ezy tickets, can be bought here