Liberty A-League Round 13 Match Preview

The Wellington Phoenix women have learned a lot about themselves during their past four matches on the road and morale remains high in the team ahead of their visit to league leaders Melbourne City.

The Phoenix have lost their last four games in Australia by a single goal to slip from third to eighth on the Liberty A-League ladder.

Saturday evening’s match at City Football Academy Field is the team’s fourth straight game away from home but head coach Paul Temple has refused to blame the travel for their recent results.

“The last four away games we’ve learned a lot about ourselves,” Temple told media after training on Thursday. “We’ve learned a lot about the processes and how we respond to things, and I think we’re seeing a change now in the group in terms of their mentality towards that.

“I don’t worry too much about the run of results or winning away from home. I’m more focussing now on what type of performance we need to win the game against Melbourne City.

“We’ve shown we can compete against the top teams in the league, and we’ve been able to do well so there’s no reason why we can’t do that against City.

“There was a little bit of vulnerability in them last round as well when they lost to Western Sydney.

“In this league anyone can beat anyone so it’s really about focussing on what our performance looks like and the energy that we bring to the game.

“If we can do what we do best with the ball and we can match that energy defensively then there’s no reason why we can’t win every game that we play.

Temple says the team morale is good despite the successive defeats.

“One of the things I’m learning is we’ve got some amazing players in this environment that respond very well to the defeats, probably better than I do.

“I take it quite hard and it takes a few days for me to get over that, whereas they are very good at parking it and moving on.

“The atmosphere in the team is really good and there have been some really good examples of leadership this week where players are really helping spark that morale.”

Phoenix head coach Paul Temple addresses the team after training at NZCIS on Thursday. Photo: Cam McIntosh/Photomac.

He concedes there has been “a lot of soul searching” and as a team they have identified they need to be more physical.

“In some of the games for certain periods we haven’t withstood that physical challenge and that’s one of the work-ons.

“In certain moments of games we need to be tougher. It’s not for 90 minutes, it’s not for the whole game.

“We’ve got to know when we’re in different parts of the match, whether we’re on top and dominating with the ball or whether we’re having to get into shape and scrap and fight a little bit more.

“In those moments we need to stand up a little bit more and be counted because we’ve shown a little bit too much of a softness to us. That’s something we need to improve on.”

Phoenix goalkeeper Brianna Edwards returned to training on Thursday and is available for Saturday’s match against Melbourne City. Photo: Cam McIntosh/Photomac.

Paul Temple is considering making changes to his starting XI and matchday squad.

“Whether you win, lose or draw you’re always looking at what team do you think is going to be the best team to get the result at the weekend, that’s the job.

“But without a doubt when the team’s not in the best form in terms of results then you’re also looking at do we need to make any changes and do we need to mix things up a little bit.

“Me and Callum [Holmes] are talking a lot about that. We’ll pick the team for Saturday that we think can go out and beat Melbourne.”

Forwards Isabel Cox and Manaia Elliott, and goalkeeper Brianna Edwards have all rejoined the squad after missing the 2-1 defeat to Central Coast last Friday and are available to play the A-League leaders.

(From left to right) Emma Main, Mackenzie Barry, Isabel Cox and Alyssa Whinham prepare for a drill at training at NZCIS on Thursday. Photo: Cam McIntosh/Photomac.

The 13th round Liberty A-League match between the Wellington Phoenix and Melbourne City is scheduled to kick-off at City Football Academy Field in Melbourne at 7pm (5pm AEDT) Saturday and will be broadcast LIVE on Sky Sport 7 in New Zealand and on Paramount+ and 10 Play in Australia.

Most recent meeting:
15 October 2023 – Wellington Phoenix 0 Melbourne City 1

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

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, 16. Annalie LONGO (c), 17. Mariana SPECKMAIER, 18. Hailey DAVIDSON, 20. Emma MAIN, 21. Manaia ELLIOTT, 23. Rebecca LAKE, 26. Tiana JABER, 27. Helena ERRINGTON.
Unavailable: 5. Marisa VAN DER MEER (injured), 8. Grace WISNEWSKI (injured), 19. Liv INGHAM (injured).

Melbourne City squad (four to be omitted) 2. Leia VARLEY, 3. Naomi CHINNAMA, 5. Taylor OTTO, 6. Leticia McKENNA, 7. Julia GROSSO, 8. Kaitlyn TORPEY, 10. Rhianna POLLICINA, 11. Emina EKIC, 13. Rebekah STOTT (c), 14. Laura HUGHES, 15. Kiera MEYERS, 16. Karly ROESTBAKKEN, 17. Hannah WILKINSON, 18. Leah DAVIDSON, 19. Tijan McKENNA, 20. Caitlin KARIC, 22. Bryleeh HENRY, 23. Melissa BARBIERI (gk), 24. Daniela GALIC, 44. Lysianne PROULX (gk).
Unavailable: 9. Holly McNAMARA (injured).

Main image: Cam McIntosh/Photomac.