Men’s Match Preview: Wellington Phoenix vs. Newcastle Jets

The Wellington Phoenix have quickly moved on from the disappointment of their first defeat since April and have turned their attentions to tonight’s fourth round Isuzu UTE A-League men’s match against the Jets in Newcastle.

The team’s 13-match unbeaten run came to an end last Friday, when the Phoenix lost 2-0 to the Western Sydney Wanderers in controversial fashion in Wollongong.

Referees boss Nathan Magill admitted to the club that the officials were wrong with two major decisions that went against the Phoenix, but head coach Ufuk Talay has moved on.

“I think we played a good brand of football, I think we played well against Western Sydney but that’s gone,” Talay told media on the eve of tonight’s match.

“We can’t change that at the moment so our focus is on Newcastle and getting a result against Newcastle.”

And while the unbeaten run was a point of pride it wasn’t a driving factor for the team.

“It was a nice little stat that we had in the background…but that was never the goal.

“The goal is to make the top six at the end of the season.”

Tonight’s match against the Jets is Wellington’s third game in eight days, with a young Nix side having played Western United in Geelong on Tuesday night in the FFA Cup’s round of 32.

First team regulars Alex Rufer, Gary Hooper, Reno Piscopo, Tim Payne, James McGarry, Callan Elliot and Josh Laws didn’t feature in the 1-0 win over Western United but are all available to face Newcastle.

“There’s a reason why we rested a few of the players so we could have some fresh players with the short turnaround,” Talay said.

“The boys that didn’t travel are currently here with the group.

“We’ll try to put out our strongest squad because we’re playing for points and we want to make the top six.”

Ufuk Talay has a fully fit squad to pick from with left back Sam Sutton and forward Jaushua Sotirio having returned from their respective injuries to make cameos off the bench in Geelong.

Right back Louis Fenton also got through his first 90 minutes since suffering a knee injury in pre-season.

“It’s good as a coach to have all of the players available.

“[It] is a good headache. It gives the option of playing players depending on the opposition that we play and the attributes that the opposition has as well.”

The Newcastle Jets are searching for their first win of the season under new head coach Arthur Papas.

The Jets lost their season opener 2-1 to Central Coast in Newcastle before earning 2-2 draws in their following matches at Western Sydney and Sydney FC.

Papas’ side have earned plaudits for the football they have been playing and Talay has taken note.

“Newcastle have been quite exciting. They want to play some attacking football, which is great.

“Newcastle remind me of when I was working with the national team, similar sort of style where it’s a little bit more chaotic, 100 miles an hour, want to do things very quickly and play the game very quickly.

“They have a lot of possession. They want to run at players 1v1 so one thing is for us is not to fall into their trap and play their game.

“It’s very important that we play our game and exploit the spaces that they leave when they want to play an attacking brand of football and throw a lot of numbers forward.

“There will be a lot of spaces for us to exploit in transition.”

The fourth round A-League men’s match between the Wellington Phoenix and Newcastle Jets is scheduled to kick-off at McDonald Jones Stadium in Newcastle at 7:45pm AEDT (9:45pm NZT), with the game broadcast LIVE on Sky Sport 2.

Most recent meeting: 28 February 2021 – Newcastle Jets 0 Wellington Phoenix 2

All-time head-to-head: Phoenix 22W, Jets 13W & 6D.

Wellington Phoenix squad: 3. Matthew BOZINOVSKI, 5. James MCGARRY, 6. Tim PAYNE, 8. Ben OLD, 9. David BALL, 10. Reno PISCOPO, 11. Jaushua SOTIRIO, 12. Luka PRSO, 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, 31. Kurtis MOGG, 32. George OTT, 33. Finn SURMAN, 34. Jackson MANUEL, 40. Alex PAULSEN (gk), 43. Oskar VAN HATTUM, 88. Gary HOOPER