Men’s Match Preview: Wellington Phoenix vs. Brisbane Roar

A fourth different ‘home’ venue in as many games for the Wellington Phoenix in the Isuzu UTE A-League.

The Phoenix are hosting Brisbane Roar at Leichhardt Oval in Sydney on Wednesday evening, having played home fixtures at Campbelltown, Wollongong and Netstrata Jubilee Stadium so far during the ‘February Football Frenzy’.

The Nix have relished the run of matches in New South Wales, taking 10 points out of a possible 12 in their adopted state to sit on the verge of the top six.

“Venues don’t matter at the moment,” Phoenix head coach Ufuk Talay told media on the eve of the match against Brisbane. “We’re just trying to get venues that are closer to where we’re staying and do less travel in New South Wales.

“A venue is a venue, as long as the pitch is nice and it’s playable I think the boys will be happy.”

The Phoenix had originally hoped they would be back home playing matches in New Zealand by now, but that remains impossible with the current border restrictions and isolation requirements.

“What we speak about with the players is what we can control and that’s the football that we play,” Talay said.

“We didn’t have a crowd down in Wollongong against Victory, but the only thing we can control is our performance on the park.

“I think the boys have become, I don’t want to say they’ve become used to it, but they understand the situation that they’re in.

“We’ve got a young group that want to play football, which is a great thing for me. At the same time they want to have success and for me it’s just making sure they’re in the right mind and they’re focused to go out there and do their job.”

That is not to say the Phoenix wouldn’t prefer to be back in Wellington.

“I’d love to be back in New Zealand. When you play an away game [and] you don’t get the result that you want you want to come home and play in front of your fans as they lift you and they give you that extra boost that you need.

“Unfortunately we don’t have that so for me it’s just about keeping the boys focussed on the task at hand and that’s making the finals series at the end of the season.”

The Nix were denied a fourth straight league win on Saturday night, when they conceded a 92nd minute equaliser to Adelaide United.

“The boys were disappointed after the game to concede late. We all know and the I think the group knows we dropped two points in that game that we should have won, but another learning curve for these young players.”

Wednesday evening’s match is the Phoenix’s fourth in 11 days and Talay has to manage his squad with another game to follow on Saturday against Sydney FC.

“The boys pulled up good after Adelaide, which is very good for us after most of those guys played three games in that seven day period.

“You always want to put your best team on the park. Hopefully they’ll be refreshed and we’ve tried to keep them with a low load at training these last couple of days.”

Experienced English striker Gary Hooper made his return from a hamstring injury via the bench against Adelaide and he is likely to again start amongst the substitutes at Leichhardt.

“The good thing is he’s available to play. At this time Bally (David Ball) and Jaushy (Jaushua Sotirio) are doing a good job up top.

“Jaushy gives us that pace in between that we need and also Bally coming off that line, creating opportunities and getting in goalscoring opportunities.

“At the moment those two are doing a good job and it’s great to have a player like Hooper available to step up and do a job as well.”

Brisbane Roar are coming off a 3-1 win over Macarthur FC on Sunday, bouncing back from a defeat to Newcastle Jets at the start of the month.

“It’s not going to be an easy game,” Talay said. ‘They will be on a high with their good result against Macarthur.

“We’re not going to underestimate them. We’ll go out there with our game plan and try to get the result.”

The Isuzu UTE A-League match between the Wellington Phoenix and Brisbane Roar is scheduled to kick-off at Leichhardt Oval in Sydney at 5:25pm AEDT (7:25pm NZT), with the game broadcast LIVE on Paramount + and Sky Sport 7.

Tickets are just $20 for an adult and are available at Ticketek Australia

Most recent meeting: 1 May 2021 – Brisbane Roar 0 Wellington Phoenix 0

All-time head-to-head: Phoenix 8W, Roar 20W & 13D.

Wellington Phoenix squad: 3. Matthew BOZINOVSKI, 4. Scott WOOTTON, 5. James MCGARRY, 6. Tim PAYNE, 7. Gael SANDOVAL, 8. Ben OLD, 9. David BALL, 10. Reno PISCOPO, 11. Jaushua SOTIRIO, 13. Nicholas PENNINGTON, 14. Alex RUFER (c), 16. Louis FENTON, 17. Callan ELLIOT, 18. Ben WAINE, 19. Sam SUTTON, 20. Oli SAIL (gk), 21. Joshua LAWS, 23. Clayton LEWIS, 30. Henry GRAY (gk), 31. Kurtis MOGG, 32. George OTT, 33. Finn SURMAN, 34. Jackson MANUEL, 40. Alex PAULSEN (gk), 43. Oskar VAN HATTUM, 88. Gary HOOPER