Liberty A-League Round 16 Match Preview

Three points are the minimum requirement for the Wellington Phoenix at Porirua Park on Wednesday if they are to keep their Liberty A-League finals hopes alive.

The rescheduled round 16 match against Adelaide United is the Phoenix’s game in hand over their top six rivals.

The Nix enter the match in 10th place, eight points outside the top six, and need to win each of their remaining three matches to have any chance of pipping Western Sydney Wanderers and potentially Newcastle Jets for sixth spot.

Head coach Paul Temple says there’s belief in the squad that they can win all three games.

“We started the season, rounds two, three and four, with three wins in a row so we can finish it with three wins in a row,” Temple told media after training on Tuesday.

“In-house there’s that belief [but] obviously we don’t control what happens with the other two teams.

“Ultimately, we’re going to need things to go in our favour and the football gods to work for us a little bit, which is a shame because we really wanted that result on Sunday so that we could keep things in our own hands.

“It’s a little bit out of our control, but we can only focus on what we can do and that’s win these last three games.

“If that puts us in the position hopefully on the last day to compete with Western Sydney that’d be an awesome way to finish.”

Adelaide United came back from a goal down to beat the Phoenix 2-1 in their first meeting in December.

“We feel like that was a huge missed opportunity. It was probably one of the best first halves we played this season in terms of creating opportunities to score and we should have really been out of sight.

“It came back to bite us and we’re now on the edges and the fringes [of the top six] because of situations like that.

“It’s just not that Adelaide game, but a few games where we’ll look back on and have to learn as a team.

“These are the games we should have put away and chances that we should have put away could have made a big difference to where we’re sitting currently.

“There’s definitely a sense of there’s something to prove and we’ll want to get one back, but also I think in this league everyone’s beating everyone.

“I’m genuinely surprised how many points everyone has. The bar is really high to get into the six. It just shows you how strong and competitive this league is.”

NEWCASTLE, AUSTRALIA – FEBRUARY 04: Annalie Longo of the Phoenix reacts during the A-League Women round 15 match between Newcastle Jets and Wellington Phoenix at No. 2 Sports Ground, on February 04, 2024, in Newcastle, Australia. (Photo by Brendon Thorne/Getty Images)

Paul Temple has named the same extended squad that was selected for Sunday’s match against Melbourne Victory, but club captain Annalie Longo is likely to miss another match with her Achilles injury.

“Things are just taking a little bit longer than we all wanted and expected, which is a shame for Annalie, because it’s obviously been a frustrating time for her.

“She’s doing everything she can to get back on to the pitch for the team. I know she’s desperate to be out there.

“It’s just a few little setbacks in the return to play which is a shame. We’ll keep pushing and see if we can have her available for the weekend or the game after that.”

Kate Taylor in possession opposite Sydney FC captain Mackenzie Hawkesby at Porirua Park on Sunday. Photo: Cam McIntosh/Photomac.

Temple is able to welcome fellow Football Fern Kate Taylor back into his starting XI, after she played the final half an hour of the Victory defeat.

“Still probably reduced minutes, but she’s available to start so we’ve got that option if we want to take it, which is good.

“She came through the game well and it’s been great having her back. I thought she made a big impact when she came on and gave us a lot of certainty on the ball and got on the ball heaps.

“I think it was evident we missed her for a few weeks now so it’s nice to have her back in the squad and available again.”

Paul Temple addresses the team following Sunday’s 4-2 defeat to Melbourne Victory. Photo: Cam McIntosh/Photomac.

He is likely to make a few changes to his side for what is Wellington’s second of three matches in eight days.

“There will be some players coming in to start that didn’t start on Sunday and we need that freshness, but at the same time we obviously need to make sure we’re doing our job and getting the three points.

“It’s just getting the balance right between the two. That’s my job.

“I’ve got to try and get that right and get the freshness out there so we still have the energy to play how we want to play tomorrow night, but also keep an eye on people that have been building up a lot of minutes.”

The Wellington Phoenix gather in a huddle before Sunday’s round 20 Liberty A-League match against Melbourne Victory. Photo: Cam McIntosh/Photomac.

The rescheduled round 16 Liberty A-League match between Wellington Phoenix and Adelaide United is scheduled to kick-off at Porirua Park in Wellington at 5pm (3pm AEDT) Sunday and will be broadcast LIVE on Sky Sport 1 in New Zealand and on Paramount+ and 10 Play in Australia. You can get your tickets to cheer on the Phoenix women here.

Most recent meeting:
16 December 2023 – Adelaide United 2 Wellington Phoenix 1

All-time A-League head-to-head: Phoenix 1W, Adelaide 4W & 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, 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), 26. Tiana JABER, 27. Helena ERRINGTON.
Unavailable: 5. Marisa VAN DER MEER (injured), 8. Grace WISNEWSKI (injured), 12. Brianna EDWARDS (gk) (personal reasons), 23. Rebecca LAKE (injured).

Adelaide United squad (two to be omitted): 1. Annalee GROVE (gk), 2. Emily HODGSON, 3. Meleri MULLAN, 5. Sarah MORGAN, 6. Hannah BLAKE, 8. Emily CONDON, 10. Chelsie DAWBER, 11. Isabel HODGSON (c), 12. Nanako SASAKI, 13. Ella TONKIN, 14. Jenna HOLTZ, 16. Dylan HOLMES, 17. Zoe TOLLAND, 19. Maruschka WALDUS, 20. Miley GRIGG, 21. Claudia JENKINS (gk), 23. Alana JANČEVSKI, 28. Chrissy PANAGARIS.
Unavailable: 7. Mariah LEE (injured), 4. Erin KONTOUTSIKOS (injured), 15. Katie BOWLER (injured), 22. Emilia MURRAY (injured). 

Main image: Cam McIntosh/Photmac.