The Wellington Phoenix face the Macarthur Bulls at WIN Stadium tonight, in their last match of Wollongong Appreciation Month in March.
The last time these two teams faced each other in January, it ended with a 1-1 all draw; the Nix leading at the half thanks to a David Ball goal, but conceding the equaliser in the 67th minute to Markel Susaeta – five minutes after Alex Rufer was red carded for an imaginary kick-out on Denis Genreau.
Understandably the Nix felt robbed in this match, so revenge will be on their mind tonight.
It has been a relatively successful March for the Phoenix over their four matches played in Wollongong Appreciation Month, picking up a pair of home wins against Perth Glory and Melbourne Victory, a 1-1 draw versus Brisbane Roar and a controversial 4-3 away loss to Western Sydney Wanderers.
During this stretch, the team has scored a combined 11 goals (while conceding five), with Tomer Hemed scoring three of these goals and Ulises Davila two – both players contributing key goals in Wednesday’s 4-1 drubbing of the Melbourne Victory, alongside David Ball (four goals this season) and Clayton Lewis with his maiden A-League goal.
Wellington Phoenix coach Ufuk Talay says that with the return of Steven Taylor and the recent dominance of imports Davila, Ball and Hemed on attack, the squad is finally starting to ‘click’.
“The last game we had all our visa players on board which is great, I think we’ve found a good combination – we’ve got a luxury now with the sixes that we have with Alex [Rufer], Clayton [Lewis] and Cammy [Devlin], we’ve got some good players in that area,” said Talay.
“And Louis [Fenton] is doing a great job as a right back and Jimmy [McGarry] is playing some good football this season as well – so I’m pretty happy with the squad we put out in the last game.”
The Bulls currently sit in 5th place on the A-League ladder, despite only picking up two wins in their past five matches. They will be buoyed by their most recent win, a 2-1 come from behind victory Western United thanks to goals from Susaeta and Matt Derbyshire.
Derbyshire has been a revelation for the Bulls this season, contributing eight goals to put him at second equal in the Golden Boot race.
Coach Talay has also been impressed by the play of one of the Bulls younger players, Lachlan Rose.
“The young boy Rose has done well, he’s come from NPL2 into that team and he’s played some good football for them – he’s very lively and he likes to go forward, so he’s done well for them.”
Coach Talay believes that the Phoenix are a better side than the one that first faced the Bulls in Match Week 3, and he’s looking forward to the challenge tonight.
“Once we got our best players on the park we play really good football – it’s going to be a challenge, this is our third game in seven days but I think we’ve got the quality to get the result.
“Macarthur have done well, they’ve got some very good Visa players and some good local players as well – they changed their shape in the last game against Western United so we’re going to have to prepare tactically for that.”
The Wellington Phoenix take on the Macarthur Bulls tonight at WIN Stadium, Wollongong from 4.05pm AEDT (6.05pm NZ Time).
Did you know?
- Lucky Red – The Phoenix have recorded a pair of wins while wearing the red ‘Wollongong Strip’ this season, scoring seven goals (and conceding one) in these two home matches.
- Long-range Bombers – Wellington Phoenix (7) and Macarthur Bulls (6) have had the most and second most shots from outside the box per game of any side this A-League season – although Wellington has scored more goals (6) than the Bulls (1) in this category.
- Clearance Kings – Wellington Phoenix has made the most clearances (21) per game of any team in the competition this season, four more than the Bulls.
- Foul Magnet – Wellington’s Ulises Davila has been fouled 37 times this A-League season, the most of nay player and six more than Macarthur FC’s most fouled – Denis Genreau with 31.
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, 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, 27.Steven TAYLOR
**2-4 to be omitted**
Ins: 2.Liam McGING (promoted), 4.Te Atawhai HUDSON-WIHONGI
Unavailable: 3.Luke DEVERE (knee injury, 8 weeks)
Macarthur FC squad: 1.Adam FEDERICI (gk), 3.Antony GOLEC, 4.Benat ETXEBARRIA, 5.Mark MILLIGAN, 6.Aleksandar JOVANOVIC, 7.Ivan FRANJIC, 8.Denis GENREAU, 9.Milislav POPOVIC, 10.Loic PUYO, 11.Tommy OAR, 12.James MEREDITH, 15.Aleksandar SUSNJAR, 21.Jake HOLLMAN, 22.Liam ROSE,23.Walter SCOTT 27.Matt DERBYSHIRE, 29.Antonis MARTIS, 31.Lachlan ROSE, 33.Markel SUSAETA
**2-4 to be omitted**
Ins: 16.Nick SUMAN (Return from injury), 22.Liam ROSE (promoted), 23.Walter SCOTT (promoted)