The Wellington Phoenix take on Western Sydney Wanderers tonight, in a match which has major implications for both teams and their respective top six hopes.
The Phoenix are on a high following their mast match; a 3-0 win over Western United in front of a record-setting 24,105 fans at Wellington’s Sky Stadium to extend their unbeaten streak to eight games. Thanks to goals from Clayton Lewis, Reno Piscopo and Tomer Hemed, the Nix have also moved up to fourth in the competition in goals scored with 37.
The last time these two teams faced each other, the Wanderers came away victors in a fiery 4-3 clash which featured seven goal changes – a match that looked destined to be a draw until Kwame Yeboah scored the go-ahead goal in the 84th minute.
So the Nix will be seeking revenge for that loss, and bring in an almost-full strength team into this match – the major exception being the continued absence of Ulises Dávila due to a hamstring injury. Also added onto the bench is Phoenix Academy product Ben Old, who made his A-League debut versus Western United in the 83rd minute.
In Davila’s absence, the Phoenix’s offense has run through Reno Piscopo in recent matches; the 22-year-old proving himself to be a dynamic and creative force on attack. One beneficiary of the adjusted setup has been Hemed, who has scored three goals in the last two matches to bring his season tally up to eight.
Western Sydney come into this match in ninth place, one place behind Wellington but equal in points. Their last win was on 8 May – a 5-0 thumping of Western United at home – before dropping their next two matches against Perth (5-1) and Sydney FC (1-0).
The Wanderers have relied on both Bruce Kamau and Mitchell Duke for their goals this season; the former netting eight goals this season (including goals in each of their last three matches), the latter with six goals in his 16 appearances. James Troisi is also an important cog in the Wanderer’s wheel, with seven assists this season.
The Wellington Phoenix take on Western Sydney Wanderers tonight at Bankwest Stadium in Parramatta from 9.05pm NZT. Following this match, the Phoenix will return to New Zealand to play against Perth Glory at Auckland’s Eden Park on Sunday 30 May.
Did you know:
- Wellington Phoenix are unbeaten in their last eight matches (4W, 4D) and have not trailed at half-time in any of those games.
- Wellington Phoenix has five blocked shots per game this season, the most of any team in the competition. Tim Payne leads the team with 19 blocks.
- Wellington Pheonix’s Clayton Lewis leads the team with 97 crosses made; he has also registered 40 key passes which is second only to Ulises Davila (42).
Western Sydney Wanderers FC squad: 2.Ziggy GORDON, 4.Dylan MCGOWAN, 6.Tass MOURDOUKOUTAS, 7.Bruce KAMAU, 8.Steven UGARKOVIC, 9.Bernie IBINI, 12.Mitchell DUKE, 13.Tate RUSSELL, 14.James TROISI, 17.Keanu BACCUS, 18.Graham DORRANS, 19.Jordon MUTCH, 27.Nicolai MULLER, 29.Daniel WILMERING, 30.Daniel MARGUSH (gk), 33.Mark NATTA, 34.Patrick ZIEGLER, 39.Thomas AQUILINA, 77.Scott McDONALD, 50.Oliver KALAC (gk)
Ins: 6.Tass MOURDOUKOUTAS (promoted), 29.Daniel WILMERING (promoted)
Unavailable: 20.Vedran JANJETOVIC (long term injury)
Wellington Phoenix squad: 1.Stefan MARINOVIC (gk), 2.Liam McGING, 5.James MCGARRY, 6.Tim PAYNE, 7.Reno PISCOPO, 8.Cameron DEVLIN, 9.David BALL, 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, 27.Steven TAYLOR, 41.Ben OLD
**1-3 to be omitted**
Ins: 2.Liam McGING (promoted), 12.Matthew RIDENTON (promoted)
Unavailable: 3.Luke DEVERE (knee injury, 2 weeks), 10.Ulises DAVILA (injury, 1 week)