The Wellington Phoenix take on the Brisbane Roar this Saturday at Suncorp Stadium, against the same squad that earned the Phoenix their first win earlier in the season – all part of their stunning nine match unbeaten streak that’s tied for their best run ever.
Beyond the win, that Round 7 match was also memorable for the two goals scored by the Phoenix; the first a fantastic header by Captain Steven Taylor that galvanised his team, and the second a rocket by Ulises Davila into the back of the net. The latter was a portent of things to come for Davila, who is now third in goals scored with nine and an undisputed star in the Hyundai A-League.
There’s no doubt that the Wellington Phoenix are flying high at the moment, despite injuries to several key players in their squad over the last month. The club made it nine consecutive fixtures without loss after beating Western Sydney Wanderers 2-0 at home last round, with a three game winning streak solidifying their fourth place position – currently equal in points (19) with third-placed Perth Glory.
The return of forward David Ball, who missed last week’s match due to a hip flexor injury, is good news for Coach Ufuk Talay.
“While we have the depth in our squad to cover for players being out, having Ball back makes a massive difference to the team – with both the energy he brings up front, the runs that he makes, the assists and the goals too.”
A win against Brisbane means that the Wellington Phoenix will set a new club record of straight 10 matches undefeated, besting their nine-match unbeaten streak set last season. But Captain Steven Taylor says that it’s wins – not records – that are at the forefront of the team’s mind before each game.
“We just go game by game as a team, we don’t get carried away and we always look to ourselves and not the other teams.
“The big thing for us is that we both work to our strengths and on other team’s weaknesses – we play with confidence, knowing that every game is different so we’ve always got to be onto it.”
Brisbane comes into this match sitting in ninth place on the ladder, with only three wins to their name so far this season – but riding a three match unbeaten streak; the squad had a 2-1 win over Western Sydney Wanderers in Round 13, but wasted recent opportunities against the Newcastle Jets and second-placed Melbourne City with both games ending in a draw.
The Roar will be missing several key players for this match, namely Captain Tom Aldred – suspended after receiving his fifth yellow card of the season against Melbourne City – as well as Aiden O’Neill & Connor O’Toole, who are both on international duty with the Australia U23 squad.
To help fill in the gaps, the Roar have drafted in young players George Mells, Aaron Reardon & Kai Trewin to the extended squad. They’ll also rely on the dangerous duo of Roy O’Donovan and Jay O’Shea to generate goals; O’Donovan has scored six goals this season, and the dynamic O’Shea leads the Hyundai A-League in both chances created (42) and crosses (104).
Did you know?
·The Phoenix have lost just one of their last seven Hyundai A-League matches against Brisbane Roar (W2, D4)
·Wellington Phoenix have a 67.1% passing accuracy in the final third of the pitch this season, the highest of any team in the Hyundai A-League
·Wellington’s Matti Steinmann boasts the best tackle success rate (25/33 – 76%) of any player to make at least 25 tackles this season, seven percentage points higher than the next best player.
At a Glance:
Date: Saturday, 18th January 2020
Kick-off: 7pm NZT
Venue: Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane
Broadcast (NZ) Sky Sport 7
Wellington Phoenix Squad:
1.Stefan MARINOVIC (gk), 2.Liam McGING, 3.Luke DEVERE, 4.Te Atawhai HUDSON-WIHONGI, 5.Matti STEINMANN, 6.Tim PAYNE, 8.Cameron DEVLIN, 9. David Ball, 10.Ulises DAVILA, 11.Jaushua SOTIRIO, 12. Brandon Wilson, 13.Liberato CACACE, 17.Callan Elliot, 20.Oliver SAIL (gk), 21.Callum MCCOWATT, 23.Walter SCOTT, 27.Steven TAYLOR (c), 31.Ben WAINE, 32.Sam SUTTON, 88. Gary HOOPER
**2-4 to be omitted**
Ins: 9. David Ball (Return from Injury), 12. Brandon Wilson (Promoted)
Unavailable: 7. Reno Piscopo (International Duty), 14.Alex RUFER (knee), 16.Louis FENTON (shoulder – season)
Brisbane Roar FC Squad:
1.Max CROCOMBE (gk), 2.Scott NEVILLE, 4.Daniel BOWLES, 6.Macaulay GILLESPHEY, 8.Jacob PEPPER, 9.Roy O’DONOVAN, 10.Bradden INMAN, 13.Stefan MAUK, 14.George MELLS, 15.Aaron REARDON, 19.Jack HINGERT, 20.Aaron AMADI-HOLLOWAY, 21.Jamie YOUNG (gk), 22.Jake MCGING, 23.Dylan WENZEL-HALLS, 25.Rahmat AKBARI, 26.Jay O’SHEA, 27.Kai TREWIN, 28.Izaack POWELL, 30.Mirza MURATOVIC
**2-4 to be omitted**
Ins: 14.George MELLS (promoted), 15.Aaron REARDON (promoted), 27.Kai TREWIN (promoted)
Outs: 5.Tom ALDRED (suspended – 1 week)
Unavailable: 12.Aiden O’NEILL (international duty), 24.Connor O’TOOLE (international duty), 29.Jordan COURTNEY-PERKINS (knee – TBC)