Liberty A-League Round 11 Match Preview

Wellington Phoenix head coach Paul Temple has renewed optimism to start the new year after a frustrating finish to 2023.

The Phoenix visit Brisbane Roar on Sunday in their first Liberty A-League match of 2024, having registered just four points from their past four matches, with defeats to Adelaide United and Sydney FC in their two games on the road.

Frustration was the word that came to mind when Temple was asked to reflect on December.

“Some really good performances that deserved more in terms of points on the board,” he told media after training on Friday. “It’s frustrating to play well, create chances and not really get points that you think you deserve from those performances.

“We’ve talked a lot about that and how we can adapt and improve ourselves in terms of turning those performances into more points and having more control in those games across the 90 minutes as opposed to just halves.

“What we want is that full 90 minute domination of the ball, chances and control.

“We’ve changed up training this week a little bit. We’ve done quite a lot more individual and unit-based stuff because some of the things that are stopping us getting that extra bit of control are technical and decision-making, so we’ve really been focusing hard on that.

“The target for the second half of the season is to try to have more dominance in games, more control over longer periods of time, but then also to use that control to create goalscoring chances and to put them away.”

The Phoenix started the round in third place, while Brisbane Roar sat 10th with the Nix to play three of the bottom four in January. But Temple is reading little into the ladder.

“What I’m learning about the A-League women’s this season is I don’t know if there even is a bottom and a top.

“You can’t really go into a game and say ‘these guys are bottom so we should win this game’ because that’s just not the case.

“We saw Canberra mid-week get a point away at Sydney. Everyone’s beating everyone, taking points off everyone, it’s so competitive from top to bottom and away games are hard.

“Sixteen wins out of 62 games away from home this season tells you how hard it is to win away in the A-League.

“That’s a massive factor and it’s a huge challenge for us as we’ve got four away games in a row.”

WELLINGTON, NEW ZEALAND – NOVEMBER 04: Annalie Longo of the Phoenix looks on after the A-League Women round three match between Wellington Phoenix and Brisbane Roar at Sky Stadium, on November 04, 2023, in Wellington, New Zealand. (Photo by Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images)

Wellington beat Brisbane 2-1 at Sky Stadium in November with captain Annalie Longo scoring a spectacular match-winner in her long-awaited Phoenix debut.

“That was in the review this morning. We shared the goal and said: ‘just do that!’

“It is interesting now we do play these teams a second time, but since we’ve played Brisbane they’ve changed their coach and Alex Smith has changed the formation and a little bit of the playing style.

“They’re also at a stage where they’re developing their game so it’s kind of like a new team to a degree.

“But you’ve got much more of an idea about the players. [Mia] Corbin’s scored a few goals recently and is doing a really good job for them as a nine and you know what [Tameka] Yallop is going to give you running from midfield.

“So you start to get to know a little bit of what you’re playing against and it becomes a little bit more about individual battles on the pitch and preparing for those as opposed to the overall tactical picture.”

WELLINGTON, NEW ZEALAND – DECEMBER 10: Rylee Foster of the Phoenix warming up ahead of the A-League Women round seven match between Wellington Phoenix and Melbourne Victory at Porirua Park, on December 10, 2023, in Wellington, New Zealand. (Photo by Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images)

First-choice goalkeeper Rylee Foster is “good to go” after she missed the defeat to Sydney with concussion, while right back Hailey Davidson is showing no ill-effects from the nasty blow to her nose which forced her off the field in the second half of the match at Allianz Stadium.

“She’s been a little unwell this week. We’re just managing a little bit of sickness through the team which looks to be hanging around at the moment, but the nose is fine.”

And fellow American Isabel Cox is in contention to start her first match in the A-League after impressing off the bench against the Sky Blues.

“We saw the pace, power and that direct running and that causes defenders problems. No one likes to play against that type of player.

“She’s very much in the thoughts for starting and hopefully she can have the same impact in the game as she did against Sydney.”

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA – DECEMBER 29: Isabel Cox of the Phoenix warms up with team mates during the A-League Women round 10 match between Sydney FC and Wellington Phoenix at Allianz Stadium, on December 29, 2023, in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Brett Hemmings/Getty Images)

The 11th round Liberty A-League match between the Wellington Phoenix and Brisbane Roar is scheduled to kick-off at Perry Park in Brisbane at 8:00pm (5:00pm AEST) Sunday and will be broadcast LIVE on Sky Sport 4 in New Zealand and on Paramount+ and 10 Play in Australia.

Most recent meeting:
4 November 2023 – Wellington Phoenix 2 Brisbane Roar 1

All-time A-League head-to-head: Phoenix 1W, Brisbane 1W & 2D.

Wellington Phoenix squad
(four to be omitted): 1. Rylee FOSTER (gk), 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, 23. Rebecca LAKE, 26. Tiana JABER.
Unavailable: 5. Marisa VAN DER MEER (injured), 8. Grace WISNEWSKI (injured), 19. Liv INGHAM (injured).

Brisbane Roar squad (four to be omitted) 2. Rebecca KIRKUP, 3. Deborah-Anne DE LA HARPE, 4. Kijah STEPHENSON, 5. Jenna McCORMICK, 6. Holly McQUEEN, 7. Ayesha NORRIE (c), 8. Mariel HECHER, 9. Mia CORBIN, 11. Sharn FREIER, 12. Tamar LEVIN, 13. Tameka YALLOP, 14. Sarah O’DONOGHUE, 17. Leah SCARPELLI, 18. Teagan THOMPSON, 19. Hollie PALMER, 20. Bonnie DAVIES, 21. Isabella SHUTTLEWORTH (gk), 22. Ruby CUTHBERT, 29. Jordan SILKOWITZ (gk), 32. Alicia WOODS.
Unavailable: 10. Grace KUILAMU, 16. Chelsea BLISSETT.