Phoenix look to do the (monkey) business in Brisbane

WELLINGTON Phoenix have got one monkey off their back and there’s another they hope to shrug off this weekend.

WELLINGTON Phoenix have got one monkey off their back and there-s another they hope to shrug off this weekend.

The Phoenix got their first away win of the Hyundai A-League 2009/10 season with a 1-0 defeat of the Newcastle Jets last weekend – a result that snapped a disappointing record on the road stretching back more than a year.

Now they head to Brisbane this weekend to face a team they have never beaten and at a venue that has been a graveyard for the Wellingtonians.

In seven matches the Phoenix have managed only three draws against the Brisbane Roar, with two of those stalemates at home at Westpac Stadium. The other four matches have resulted in wins for the Roar, three of those coming at Suncorp Stadium.

But Phoenix head coach Ricki Herbert is confident his side can finally get the three points against the Roar on Sunday.

“If we go there and play as well as we know we can, then I think we-ll take something from it. We-ve been doing okay and last weekend-s win was a shot in the arm. We-ll be out to win this one because we need to stay in touch with the teams ahead of us and put some distance on the teams below us.”

The Phoenix have 20 competition points and sit in sixth spot on the Hyundai A-League 2009/10 ladder, three points clear of Adelaide United and four in front of the eight-placed Roar.

A win in Brisbane will tighten their grip on a playoffs spot.

“But it-ll be tough,” said Herbert. “Suncorp has been a difficult venue for us and for some reason we-ve struggled to get going there. We-re going to have to this weekend, otherwise we-ll get punished. I think we went along way toward addressing the problems last time (a 1-1 draw at Suncorp in round three) but it-s imperative we push on.

Herbert has been forced to make two changes to the side that beat the Jets, with goalkeeper Mark Paston ruled out with a thigh injury and midfielder Diego Walsh suffering a groin strain. Reece Crowther will start in goal in his third match of the season and assistant coach Jonathan Gould will be Crowther-s back-up on the bench. Vince Lia, who missed the Newcastle game on suspension, returns to the squad in place of Diego.

With British strikers Paul Ifill and Chris Greenacre firing up front, Leo Bertos and Daniel pulling the strings in midfield and skipper Andrew Durante and Ben Sigmund the defensive rocks, the Phoenix head to Suncorp with a ton of confidence.

As he did in Newcastle, Herbert will demand attacking football from his team.

“We-ve got good options throughout the squad and when we get on the front foot we cause teams problems. That-s the aim again on Sunday.”

Sunday, November 29, 2009
Brisbane Roar v Wellington Phoenix
Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane
Local kickoff:
6pm (9pm NZDST)
Referee: Peter Green

Live and exclusive broadcast on Sky Sport 1 and Fox Sports 2. Hyundai A-League club broadcast partner is The Radio Network 1035 AM (Wellington).

Brisbane Roar squad: 1. Liam REDDY (GK), 2. Andrew PACKER, 3. Craig MOORE (c), 4. Luke DEVERE, 5. Josh McCLOUGHAN, 7. Michael ZULLO, 6. David DODD, 8. Massimo MURDOCCA, 9. Sergio VAN DIJK, 10. Charlie MILLER, 11. REINALDO, 15. Matt McKAY, 16. Bob MALCOLM, 17. Mitch NICHOLS, 18. Danny TIATTO, 19. Isaka CERNAK, 20. Griffin McMASTER (GK), 21. Tommy OAR, 22. Ivan FRANJIC *four to be omitted*

In: Bob MALCOLM (promoted), Liam REDDY (returns from injury), Massimo MURDOCCA (promoted), Michael ZULLO (promoted)
Out: HENRIQUE (suspended)
Unavailable: Nil

Wellington Phoenix squad: 2. Manny MUSCAT, 3. Tony LOCHHEAD, 6. Tim BROWN, 7. Leo BERTOS, 8. Paul IFILL, 9. Chris GREENACRE, 11. DANIEL, 13. Troy HEARFIELD, 14. Adrian CACERES, 17. Vince LIA, 18. Ben SIGMUND, 20. Reece CROWTHER (gk), 21. Marco ROJAS, 22. Andrew DURANTE (c), 23. Costa BARBAROUSES, 30. Jonathan GOULD (gk) *one to be omitted*

In: Vince LIA (return from suspension), Marco ROJAS (promoted), Jonathan GOULD (gk, short-term injury cover)
Out: Mark PASTON (gk) (thigh – 1 week), DIEGO (groin – 1 week)
Unavailable: Jon McKAIN (quad – 1 week)

*Head-to-Head: Played 7: Brisbane Roar wins 4, Wellington Phoenix wins 0 (3 draws)