The Wellington Phoenix are determined to build on their first win of the 2022-23 Liberty A-League.
The Phoenix broke through for their first points of the season in emphatic fashion last Sunday, outclassing Canberra United 5-0 at Sky Stadium.
This weekend the Nix are visiting the Brisbane Roar, who are level on points with Canberra halfway through the season.
Phoenix head coach Natalie Lawrence says the win has given the team a massive lift.
“Having a big win like that gives you that confidence, gives the players the belief that what we’re trying to do is going to work,” Lawrence told media on Friday morning.
“There’s been a decent amount of confidence, but it’s been quite channelled into a quiet determination to keep the momentum going
“Whilst there’s been a good vibe and good hype…also let’s not get carried away, let’s keep the momentum.
“I talked about how professional I thought they were at halftime and that’s continued throughout the week.
“We know we haven’t necessarily travelled amazingly so that’s the next goal as we continue to build through the season.”
Young forward Milly Clegg is one who has been buoyed by last week’s win and scoring her first A-League goal.
“You should see her in training this week she just hasn’t put a foot wrong.
“She’s got something special. She’s got something that probably not many players do have; that eye for goal.”
Lawrence is however tempering excitement around Clegg, given she’s only 17.
“We’ve got to be really careful with these young ones that we’re not placing too much pressure on to them at such a young stage.
“She’s so well grounded. Her parents have been in high performance so she doesn’t get ahead of herself.
“I think it’s really important for us that we’re also really patient with her. I can see her performances just getting better and better, but she’s super young.
“We’ve been patient with her so far and we will continue to do that and develop areas of her game that she needs to.”
Ava Pritchard also scored her first goal of the season last Sunday and embodies the mindset of the Phoenix players.
“She’s starting to play like a proper number nine; holding the ball up, being strong, drawing fouls, pressing well.
“Her confidence has gone up but she’s also super critical of herself. She is like ‘well I should have had three [goals]’.
“So, whilst we’re like ‘Ava really, really good performance we’re really happy with how you’re progressing’ she’s always striving for more and I think that’s such a cool high performance mindset.”
Lawrence “can’t see many changes” being made to the XI which started against Canberra United, meaning Betsy Hassett is likely to again play as an attacking midfielder.
“She’s been screaming to play a bit higher. She’s a bit of a wriggler, she’s pretty quick, she makes really good runs and we saw that she was freer.
“She was able to just be free, play her game and bring others into it. I was really pleased that she could play higher, and it worked.”
Natalie Lawrence is still unable to call on goalkeeper Lily Alfeld (injury), attacking midfielder Alyssa Whinham (personal reasons) and Football Ferns forward Emma Rolston (suspension), but is hopeful Alfeld isn’t far away from being available for the first time this season.
“She’s seen the docs and she’s got some meds for her back. She’s definitely not walking like a 90-year-old anymore!
“She’ll hopefully be back pretty soon, and she’ll have to push Bri (Brianna Edwards) now because we can see Bri has grown throughout the season.
“We’re in a pretty exciting position when Lil gets back that those two will be battling it out with (Georgia) Candy right on their heels as well.”
The 12th round Liberty A-League match between the Wellington Phoenix and Brisbane Roar is scheduled to kick-off at A.J. Kelly Park in Brisbane at 3:00pm AEST (6:00pm NZT) and will be broadcast LIVE on Sky Sport in New Zealand and Paramount+ and 10 Play in Australia.
The match has been pushed back 25 hours due to unforeseen flight disruptions, which meant the Phoenix only arrived in Brisbane late on Saturday morning local time.
Most recent A-League meeting: 16 January 2022 – Wellington Phoenix 2 Brisbane Roar 3
All-time A-League head-to-head: Phoenix 0W, Roar 1W & 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, 11. Betsy HASSETT, 12. Brianna EDWARDS (gk), 13. Paige SATCHELL, 14. Michaela ROBERTSON, 15. Zoe MCMEEKEN, 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), 16. Emma ROLSTON (suspended).
Brisbane Roar squad: 1. Isabella SHUTTLEWORTH (gk), 2. Annabel HAFFENDEN, 3. Jessie RASSCHAERT, 5. Jamilla RANKIN, 6. Holly MCQUEEN, 7. Ayesha NORRIE (c), 9. Larissa CRUMMER, 10. Katrina GORRY, 11. Sharn FREIER, 12. Shea CONNORS, 13. Tamar LEVIN, 16. Zara KRUGER, 17. Talitha KRAMER, 19. Hollie PALMER, 20. Georgia BEAUMONT, 21. Mia BAILEY (gk), 23. Kajsa LIND, 27. Indiah-Paige RILEY, 51. Hensley HANCUFF (gk), 78. Margot ROBBINE.
Unavailable: 8. Mariel HECHER, 4.Kijah STEPHENSON.