Liberty A-League Round 8 Match Preview

The Wellington Phoenix are reading little into Adelaide United’s position on the Liberty A-League ladder ahead of Saturday night’s match in South Australia.

The Reds enter round eight at the bottom of the ladder with just two points to show from their opening seven matches.

In contrast the Phoenix have already equalled their points tally of 13 from the 2022-23 season with four wins and a draw so far this campaign.

“I don’t think us as a team are in a position to take anybody lightly at this point,” Wellington head coach Paul Temple told media via zoom on Friday afternoon. “We’ve definitely done the same amount of homework on Adelaide as anybody else.

“Statistically they’re a real enigma of a team and are quite difficult to really pick apart because they’ve had the most shots against them, they’ve conceded the most goals, they’re bottom of the table with the least points, but they’ve also got a huge amount of possession in their games, I think they’re right behind us in terms of total amount of passes made, and have the highest amount of build-up passes in the league.

“I think they’re trying to really play good football and build up from the back…and at this point haven’t really executed.

“But football in this league in particular everyone is capable of beating anyone on their day, so we certainly won’t be taking them lightly based on their current league position.

“I’m expecting it to be another tough test for us and treating Adelaide with every single bit of respect as we would anyone else.”

Temple has a few tough calls to make before he names his starting XI. Zoe McMeeken impressed in her first start of the season against Melbourne Victory on Sunday stepping in for Michaela Foster, who like fellow Football Ferns Mackenzie Barry and Manaia Elliott came off the bench following their long trip back from Colombia.

“It’s the classic coach’s selection headache that we all want, but we secretly don’t actually like!

“Some of them put in some really good performances last week, but also you’ve got to take into account the whole season and the performances over the season.

“It was a good training yesterday before we left for Adelaide. Really high quality. I’m expecting a good session again today over here and then we’ll make some decisions on the starting XI.”

He has made it clear the full matchday squad of 16 will play an important role at Marden Sports Complex on Saturday night.

“I think it’s important that we utilise the bench. It’s worked so well for us.

“If they’re not starting, they’re still going to play an important part in the game. That’s the message that they get and we’re proving that by putting them on and players are coming on and doing really well in games and having an impact.”

WELLINGTON, NEW ZEALAND – DECEMBER 10: Zoe McMeeken of the Phoenix evades the Melbourne Victory defence during 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)

Paul Temple will be forced to make at least one change to his starting XI with Kelli Brown not making the trip to Adelaide because of illness.

Fellow forward Michaela Robertson, who has yet to feature for the Nix this season, is likely to take Brown’s place in the matchday squad, while young holding midfielder Daisy Brazendale has also travelled.

New signing Isabel Cox wasn’t considered for the team’s third road match of the season.

“She arrived in Wellington on Wednesday night and we left for Adelaide on Thursday afternoon so the turnaround was extremely tight.

“Also in terms of when players sign they have to complete…medicals and league assessments. We would never have had time to have her complete all of that and travel so basically she’s spending the weekend in Wellington going through all the tests she has to do.

“She’ll have them all signed off by the end of this weekend and then she can be available for the game next week.”

WELLINGTON, NEW ZEALAND – DECEMBER 10: Emma Main of the Phoenix celebrates with teammates after scoring a goal during 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)

The eighth round Liberty A-League match between the Wellington Phoenix and Adelaide United is scheduled to kick-off at Marden Sports Complex in Adelaide at 7:30pm (5pm ACDT) Saturday and will be broadcast LIVE on Sky Sport 2 in New Zealand and on Paramount+ and 10 Play in Australia.

Most recent meeting:
28 March 2023 – Adelaide United 1 Wellington Phoenix 3

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

Wellington Phoenix squad
(three to be omitted): 1. Rylee FOSTER (gk), 2. Zoe MCMEEKEN, 3. Kate TAYLOR, 4. Mackenzie BARRY, 6. Macey FRASER, 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, 24. Ella MCMILLAN.
Unavailable: 5. Marisa VAN DER MEER (injured), 8. Grace WISNEWSKI (injured), 9. Kelli BROWN (illness), 19. Liv INGHAM (injured).

Adelaide United squad (four to be omitted) 1. Annalee GROVE (gk), 2. Emily HODGSON, 5. Sarah MORGAN, 6. Hannah BLAKE, 7. Mariah LEE, 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, 18. Annabel HAFFENDEN, 19. Maruschka WALDUS, 20. Miley GRIGG, 21. Claudia JENKINS (gk), 23. Alana JANČEVSKI, 28. Chrissy PANAGARIS, 32. Madeleine WRIGHT.
Unavailable: 9. Rosetta TAYLOR (injured), 15. Katie BOWLER (injured), 22. Emilia MURRAY (injured).

Main image: Cam McIntosh/Photomac.