The Wellington Phoenix women have experienced the A-League’s longest road trip for the first time.
Natalie Lawrence’s squad have travelled to Perth, via Melbourne, for Sunday night’s 10th round Liberty A-League match against the Glory at Macedonia Park.
The women played Perth twice in their inaugural season, but both matches were in New South Wales so this is the team’s first trip to Western Australia.
“It’s an interesting one,” Lawrence told media on the eve of the match. “I wonder if it is the longest away trip for a women’s professional side? I reckon it’s probably up there.
“It felt long and it felt tedious at times but the girls are in great spirits. They take everything on [in their stride].
“The girls have been really good at not wallowing in the fact that we’ve had to do this travel. It’s the reality. It’s not an excuse.
“We asked the men some tips and they’ve given us some great one to help us get through. We’re hoping it’s not going to have too much of an effect on the performance.”
The Nix are the only team yet to win this season, but Lawrence doesn’t want her players to worry about the outcome.
“I think it puts a bit of external pressure on. We’re trying to keep the internal pressure away to ensure that we’re sticking to what we want to do.
“We’ve got a long-term vision for this team and this club…so if we keep progressing as we are then the outcomes of points and wins are definitely going to happen.”
After leaking 12 goals in their opening four games, Wellington have conceded just three in their last three, falling to 1-nil defeats to Adelaide United and Western United either side of a 1-1 draw against Western Sydney.
“Since Adelaide we’ve done a lot of work defensively to be harder to beat and I think what the performances are showing is there’s a belief within the team in the way that we want to play football and they’re trusting in the process that the outcome will come.
“We want to win every single game. We go in thinking we can get something out of every single game and Perth’s no different.
“As long as the players stick with what they’re doing and they keep progressing every single week, like we’ve asked them to and like they have been, then the outcome will look after itself.
“I don’t want the players to get too bogged down because what we’re seeing is huge progressions from a young, inexperienced team.”
With the Phoenix now looking more solid at the back, the coaches have spent extra work on the final third this week.
“Since the beginning of the season until now we’re creating a lot more, but I would say we’re creating half chances, we’re not creating quality chances.
“We’ve talked a lot about our patience especially in the mid to final third to be able to live with the ball a little bit longer to create a quality chance [and] then have a bit more composure in the box when that chance comes to us.
“Now we feel defensively more stable, when we win the ball back or when we have possession it’s about being able to build through to create a more quality chance, rather than a more hopeful one.”
Natalie Lawrence will again be unable to call on experienced midfielder Betsy Hassett, who has been released to prepare for the Football Ferns’ first match against the U.S.A. in Wellington on Wednesday.
“I know we will miss her this weekend, but like we saw last weekend we coped without her.
“I’m pretty happy with how the midfielders are pushing each other.”
Club captain Lily Alfeld also hasn’t travelled for a game she had been targeting for her comeback in goal.
“I feel pretty gutted for Lil. She was tracking along really nicely to be available this weekend and has had a setback with her back.
“Her knee’s feeling great and she’s had a problem with her back. It started to flare up a little bit towards the end of the week. Unsure as to why.
“She’s seeing the doctor on Monday so from then I’ll be able to have a clearer idea of how long she’s going to be [out for]. We’re hoping it’s not too long.
“She’s been through the wars a little bit and is understandably gutted.”
But Lawrence will be able to call on vice-captain Kate Taylor for the first time since round two.
The centre back has shaken off a foot injury and is expected to come straight back into the starting XI.
“Kate is fully available and we’re very excited to have her back.
“Marisa’s (van der Meer) done an amazing job [in her absence]. Kate offers something quite different to Marisa.
“She can definitely help us with that in possession piece a little bit, while keeping us defensively sound.”
The 10th round Liberty A-League match between the Wellington Phoenix and Perth Glory is scheduled to kick-off at Macedonia Park in Perth at 4:00pm AWDT (9:00pm NZT) and will be broadcast LIVE on Sky Sport 2 & 7 in New Zealand and Paramount+ and 10 Play in Australia.
Most recent A-League meeting: 4 March 2022 – Wellington Phoenix 1 Perth Glory 3
All-time A-League head-to-head: Phoenix 0W, Glory 2W & 0D.
Wellington Phoenix squad: 2. Saskia VOSPER, 3. Kate TAYLOR, 4. Mackenzie BARRY, 5. Marisa VAN DER MEER, 6. Isabel GOMEZ, 7. Chloe KNOTT, 8. Grace WISNEWSKI, 9. Ava PRITCHARD, 12. Brianna EDWARDS (gk), 13. Paige SATCHELL, 14. Michaela ROBERTSON, 15. Zoe MCMEEKEN, 16. Emma ROLSTON, 17. Claudia CICCO, 18. Te Reremoana WALKER, 19. Charlotte LANCASTER, 20. Milly CLEGG, 21. Michaela FOSTER, 22. Georgia CANDY (gk).
Unavailable: 1. Lily ALFELD (c) (gk) (injured), 10. Alyssa WHINHAM (personal reasons) , 11. Betsy HASSETT (international duty).
Perth Glory squad: 1. Morgan AQUINO (gk), 3. Kim CARROLL, 4. Natasha RIGBY (c), 6. Tijan MCKENNA, 7. Liz ANTON, 8. Hana LOWRY, 9. Demi KOULIZAKIS, 10. Susan PHONSONGKHAM, 12. Sofia SAKALIS, 13. Sarah CAIN, 15. Cyera HINTZEN, 16. Isabella WALLHEAD, 17. Abbey GREEN, 18. Sadie LAWRENCE, 19. Izzy FOLETTA, 20. Sarah LANGMAN (gk), 21. Ella MASTRANTONIO, 22. Claudia MIHOCIC, 23. Alana JANCEVSKI, 42. Gabriella COLEMAN.
Unavailable: 11.Rylee BAISDEN (injured), 24.Milan HAMMOND (injured).