Liberty A-League Round 10 Match Preview

Carrying their home form across the Tasman is the next challenge for the Wellington Phoenix in the 2023-24 Liberty A-League.

The Phoenix women’s best start to a season has been built on the team’s results in New Zealand.

The Nix are unbeaten in their last five matches in Aotearoa since dropping their season opener to Melbourne City, winning four games and drawing one.

In contrast Wellington have won just once in three matches in Australia so far this campaign, losing to Central Coast Mariners and Adelaide United after a promising first up win over Western Sydney Wanderers.

The Phoenix’s road form will be put to the test over the next four rounds with four successive trips across the Tasman, starting with Friday’s match against reigning champions Sydney FC.

“We need to prove to ourselves that if we want to stay in that top end of the table we have to be able to go on the road and win so these are a big few weeks for us coming up,” head coach Paul Temple told media after training on Wednesday.

“There’s no one telling us or putting pressure on us externally, it’s us internally saying right ‘can we get over this?’.

“We’ve now got a number of away games in a row where we have to show that we can win on the road and win in Australia.

“Once I think we’ve got a few results in the bank there then the confidence will breed about travelling.”

Temple will be without goalkeeper Rylee Foster on Friday night because of a mild concussion.

“All of sport is being very cautious around head knocks and concussions and we’re doing the same with Rylee’s situation.

“Post-game she started reporting a few delayed onset symptoms, which have since resolved, but ultimately you’ve got to be so cautious with head knocks.

“And with Rylee’s case we obviously have a history here with the brain injury she suffered in the crash a couple of years ago.

“She desperately wants to play and looking at her today (Wednesday) she probably could play if we pushed it, but the right thing to do is to take that more cautious approach, follow the protocols and make sure we’re doing all the right things by her.”

WELLINGTON, NEW ZEALAND – DECEMBER 23: Rylee Foster of the Phoenix receives medical attention during the A-League Women round nine match between Wellington Phoenix and Newcastle Jets at Sky Stadium, on December 23, 2023, in Wellington, New Zealand. (Photo by Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images)

The squad has been strengthened this week, with Australian defender Tiana Jaber and New Zealand age-group international Helena Errington signing with the Nix before the registration window closed on Boxing Day.

Jaber and Errington follow the arrival of American forward Isabel Cox earlier this month, with Temple calling in reinforcements as a result of the season-ending knee injuries to Grace Wisnewski and Marisa van der Meer and the departure of Chloe Knott.

“I still think the squad is really strong. Since the Auckland game we’ve been feeling a little light on numbers just in terms of depth.

“We’ve managed to get through okay without it really causing any issues in the games, but obviously knowing there’s still more than half of the season to go and lots can happen we really needed to get a few more numbers in.

“They’re three players that, not only add to what we’ve got and give us something different in each of those positions, but they’re also three players that are going to push the players that are here for their starting positions and create that good competition for places that we’ve had from the start.

“I’m pleased the dynamic of that healthy competition is back even though it creates some more selection headaches for me.”

NEWCASTLE, AUSTRALIA – FEBRUARY 08: Tiana Jaber of the Jets is contested by Alexandra Chidiac of the Victory during the round six A-League Women’s match between Newcastle Jets and Melbourne Victory at McDonald Jones Stadium, on February 08, 2022, in Newcastle, Australia. (Photo by Ashley Feder/Getty Images)

Cox made her debut as a second half substitute in last weekend’s win over Newcastle Jets, while Jaber will meet her new teammates in Sydney.

“It is going to take two or three weeks for them to really find their rhythm and find their feet.

“Realistically they’re going to play smaller amounts of minutes to begin with in this two or three weeks and then ramp up from there.

“We’ve got a pretty hectic January so we might have to look after a number of players in the squad during that January period with so much travel.

“It’s a bit of a balancing act, but now we’ve got the numbers it means we can make some of those decisions.”

The Phoenix beat Sydney FC 1-0 in their most recent meeting in March, after losing their first three, while conceding nine goals and scoring none.

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA – MARCH 11: Kate Taylor of Phoenix celebrates scoring a goal with team mates during the round 17 A-League Women’s match between Sydney FC and Wellington Phoenix at Netstrata Jubilee Stadium, on March 11, 2023, in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

The 10th round Liberty A-League match between the Wellington Phoenix and Sydney FC is scheduled to kick-off at Allianz Stadium in Sydney at 7:00pm (5:00pm AEDT) Friday and will be broadcast LIVE on Sky Sport 4 in New Zealand and on Paramount+ and 10 Play in Australia.

Most recent meeting:
11 March 2023 – Sydney FC 0 Wellington Phoenix 1

All-time A-League head-to-head: Phoenix 1W, Sydney 3W & 0D.

Wellington Phoenix squad
(four to be omitted): 2. Zoe MCMEEKEN, 3. Kate TAYLOR, 4. Mackenzie BARRY, 6. Macey FRASER, 7. Isabel COX, 9. Kelli BROWN, 10. Alyssa WHINHAM, 11. Hope BRESLIN, 12. Brianna EDWARDS (gk), 13. Michaela FOSTER, 14. Michaela ROBERTSON, 15. Daisy BRAZENDALE, 16. Annalie LONGO (c), 17. Mariana SPECKMAIER, 18. Hailey DAVIDSON, 20. Emma MAIN, 21. Manaia ELLIOTT, 22. Aimee DANIELI (gk), 23. Rebecca LAKE, 26. Tiana JABER.
Unavailable: 1. Rylee FOSTER (gk) (injured), 5. Marisa VAN DER MEER (injured), 8. Grace WISNEWSKI (injured), 19. Liv INGHAM (injured).

Sydney FC squad (four to be omitted) 1. Jada WHYMAN (gk), 2. Margaux CHAUVET, 3. Charlotte MCLEAN, 4. Tori TUMETH, 5. Kirsty FENTON, 7. Teigan COLLISTER, 10. Sienna SAVESKA, 11. Cortnee VINE, 13. Aideen KEANE, 14. Abbey LEMON, 16. Jordan THOMPSON, 17. Jynaya DOS SANTOS, 18. Taylor RAY, 19. Zara KRUGER, 20. Princess IBINI (c), 21. Shay HOLLMAN, 22. Indiana DOS SANTOS, 23. Fiona WORTS, 26. Maddie CASPERS, 30. Tahlia FRANCO (gk).
Unavailable: 6. Lucy JOHNSON (injured), 9. Shea CONNORS (injured), 12. Nat TOBIN (injured).

Match Highlights – Wellington Phoenix women defeat the Newcastle Jets by 2-0