PHOENIX striker Dylan Macallister is champing at the bit to have a go at his former Central Coast Mariners teammates at Westpac Stadium on Saturday night.
The big target man spent two seasons in yellow and navy in Gosford before joining the Phoenix at the start of this season. He is one of two former Mariners in the Phoenix squad, with goalkeeper Danny Vukovic also in line to face his old club at the Ring of Fire.
Macallister said the prospect of playing against the Mariners was special.
“It-s a special one for me, against my old team. It-s certainly not a game I-ll take lightly – not that I take any game lightly – and I-m looking to have an impact, get on and get some minutes and do what I can for the Phoenix.”
The 1.91m striker has not enjoyed as much time on the field as he would have liked since crossing the Tasman to join the Phoenix but he feels he-s really beginning to stake his claim to a return to the starting XI.
“I was unhappy to be put out of the team. That-s just natural – you want to play every game. But I think I-m in good shape. I-ve had a good chat with (coach) Ricki (Herbert) and he-s told me to be patient and that my chance will come.
“So I-m working hard on the training pitch every day and doing what I should be doing. Hopefully I can get back into some good form and start scoring goals as well.”
Herbert has indicated he will start the same XI as that which took the field in Perth, though the makeup of the bench “may look at little different”. Macallister is odds-on to keep his spot on that bench.
There is the feeling in the Phoenix camp that the team has turned the corner after the Brisbane Roar broke their unbeaten run of 24 home games at Westpac Stadium before they went on the road and got their first away win of the season against Perth last weekend.
“We definitely feel we-ve turned the corner,” Macallister said. “That (unbeaten) record was unbelievable and I don-t think it-ll ever be broken. Now we don-t have that record following us any more. We just have to keep on being positive. We-re still in touch with the top teams and we need to get things moving right now and string some wins together.”
The Phoenix have a good head-to-head record against the Mariners, with a five-win, three-loss, two-draw record. The Phoenix-s most recent win against the Gosford outfit was at Westpac Stadium in August, courtesy of goals to Paul Ifill and Leo Bertos.
“It was a great game against them in round two, knocking them over here at home, so it-s nice to be playing them again” said Macallister. “They-re coming off the back of some good results and we-ve broken out of our little slump, so it-s a battle of two in-form teams who are quite similar in style.”
Wellington Phoenix v Central Coast Mariners
Saturday, 13 November 2010
Westpac Stadium, Wellington
Local kick-off: 7.30pm local (5.30pm AEDT)
Referee: Peter Green
Live and exclusive broadcast on Sky Sport 2 and FOX Sports 1, FS1 HD. A-League club broadcast partner is The Radio Network (Wellington) 1035AM and 96.3 Coast FM (Gosford). To purchase tickets visit www.ticketek.co.nz
Wellington Phoenix squad: 1. Mark PASTON (gk), 2. Manny MUSCAT, 4. Nick WARD, 6. Tim BROWN, 7. Leo BERTOS, 8. Paul IFILL, 9. Chris GREENACRE, 11. DANIEL, 13. Troy HEARFIELD, 14. Mirjan PAVLOVIC, 15. Jade NORTH, 17. Vince LIA, 18. Ben SIGMUND, 19. Danny VUKOVIC (gk), 21. Marco ROJAS, 22. Andrew DURANTE (c), 23. Dylan MACALLISTER, 26. Simon ELLIOTT
*three to be omitted*
In: Nick WARD (promoted), Troy HEARFIELD (promoted), Mirjan PAVLOVIC (promoted)
Unavailable: Tony LOCHHEAD (groin – 5 weeks), Oscar ROBERT CORNEJO (knee – 5 weeks)
Central Coast Mariners squad: Daniel MCBREEN, 3. Joshua ROSE, 4. Pedj BOJIC, 6. Patrick ZWAANSWIJK, 8. Rostyn GRIFFITHS, 10. Patricio PEREZ, 11. Oliver BOZANIC, 12. Matthew LEWIS, 14. Michael McGLINCHEY, 16. Trent SAINSBURY, 17. Chris DOIG, 18. Alex WILKINSON (c), 19. Matt SIMON, 20. Mathew RYAN (gk), 22. Mustafa AMINI, 23. Adam KWASNIK, 30. Paul HENDERSON (gk).
*two to be omitted*
In: Trent SAINSBURY (promoted)
Out: John HUTCHINSON (international duty)
Unavailable: John HUTCHINSON (international duty), Brad PORTER (knee – 12 weeks), Jess VANSTRATTAN (knee – season)
Head-to-head: All matches (played 10): Wellington Phoenix wins 5, Central Coast Mariners wins 3 (2 draws)