The Wellington Phoenix will square off against Brisbane Roar for the first time this season, with both clubs playing at McDonald Jones Stadium in Newcastle as the opening match of an exciting A-League double-header.
Although they won’t be facing the Newcastle Jets in this encounter, the Nix have enjoyed a solid record at MacDonald Jones Stadium recently, having only lost one match in their past six played at this venue (W2, D3), including an undefeated run in their last four matches there.
Coming off of a contentious 4-3 loss to Western Sydney Wanderers in the last round, the Nix look to have discovered both an ability to score goals and an efficiency in doing so; with a season-best eight goals scored over their last three matches, Wellington has been on target with 50% of their goal attempts (14 from 28), a substantial improvement from earlier in the season.
In fact, despite the loss it can be argued the squad has finally rediscovered their exciting 2019/20 form – before the momentum-killing season postponement in March 2020 – which was also the last time the Nix scored eight goals in a three-match stretch (W3).
And the scoring during this stretch has been well spread across the squad, countering any early season chatter that Ulises Davila had been shouldering too much of the scoring burden; the three prior matches seeing braces from Ben Waine and David Ball and goals from Davila, Tomer Hemed, Cameron Devlin and Reno Piscopo – demonstrating a balanced attacking side.
Ex-Premier League forward Hemed’s maiden goal – off of a penalty against the Wanderers – is a particular bright spot for the Phoenix, with coach Talay hoping that this, along with Hemed’s second (disallowed) goal, will help unlock his massive goal-scoring potential for the Nix in games to come.
It hasn’t been smooth sailing for Brisbane over the past six matches – the Roar winless during this stretch (D3, L3) and struggling to score goals; with only two goals to their name over this six-match stretch and going scoreless in four matches.
When they are able to produce goals, the Roar rely on the ability of their young forward, Dylan Wenzell-Halls; his six goals in 11 matches this season placing him four-equal in the Golden Boot race. Wenzell-Halls is also second in goals attempted with 38, only one shot behind Melbourne City’s Golden Boot leader Jamie Maclaren.
They’ve also been buoyed by the play of 20-year-old Japanese midfielder, Riku Danzaki, who has scored three goals this season. But they’ll miss the steady presence of veteran Scott McDonald (3 goals, 2 assists) who has contributed for Brisbane this season but will miss tomorrow’s match due to a hamstring injury.
The Roar’s defense has fared better so far this season; Brisbane currently sit third-lowest in goals conceded (13) and lead the competition in duels won at 52.2%.
The Wellington Phoenix take on Brisbane Roar tonight at McDonald Jones Stadium, Newcastle from 4.05pm AEDT (6.05pm NZ Time).
Did you know?
- Five of the last nine A-League games between the Wellington Phoenix and Brisbane Roar have ended in a draw; with the remaining four fixtures in that span seeing each side pick up two wins apiece.
- Wellington Phoenix and Brisbane Roar have scored the joint-most goals (5 each respectively) of any team from outside the box this season; the Nix have made the most shots per game (6.8) of any team in this category.
- Wellington Phoenix have made the most clearances per game (22) of any team this A-League season; Brisbane Roar rank third with 21.
Wellington Phoenix squad: 1.Stefan MARINOVIC (gk), 2.Liam McGING, 4.Te Atawhai HUDSON-WIHONGI, 5.James MCGARRY, 6.Tim PAYNE, 7.Reno PISCOPO, 8.Cameron DEVLIN, 9.David BALL, 10.Ulises DAVILA, 11.Jaushua SOTIRIO, 12.Matthew RIDENTON, 13.Charles LOKOLI-NGOY, 14.Alex RUFER, 16.Louis FENTON, 17.Tomer HEMED, 18.Ben WAINE, 19.Sam SUTTON, 20.Oliver SAIL, 21.Joshua LAWS, 23.Clayton LEWIS
**2-4 to be omitted**
Ins: 19.Sam SUTTON (promoted)
Unavailable: 3.Luke DEVERE (knee injury, 9 weeks)
Brisbane Roar FC squad: 1.Macklin FREKE (gk), 3.Corey BROWN, 5.Tom ALDRED (c), 6.Macaulay GILLESPHEY, 8.Danny KIM, 9.Masato KUDO, 10.Riku DANZAKI, 11.Joe CHAMPNESS, 15.Jesse DALEY, 16.Joshua BRINDELL-SOUTH, 17.Golgol MEBRAHTU, 19.Jack HINGERT, 21.Jamie YOUNG (gk), 23.Dylan WENZEL-HALLS, 25.Rahmat AKBARI, 26.Jay O’SHEA, 27.Kai TREWIN, 29.Jordan COURTNEY-PERKINS, 33.Keegan JELACIC, 37.Cyrus DEHMIE
**2-4 to be omitted**
Ins: 8.Danny KIM (promoted), 33.Keegan JELACIC (promoted), 37.Cyrus DEHMIE (promoted)
Unavailable: 77.Scott MCDONALD (hamstring)