The form guide may be thrown out the window for play-off football but Wellington Phoenix skipper Andrew Durante says his side will take heart from their performances against Sydney going into Friday night’s Hyundai A-League elimination final against the Sky Blues.
The form guide may be thrown out the window for play-off football but Wellington Phoenix skipper Andrew Durante says his side will take heart from their performances against Sydney going into Friday night’s A-League elimination final against the Sky Blues.
Wellington have beaten Sydney in all three outings this season, but it is the manner of those victories that Durante is taking confidence from ahead of the do-or-die clash at Westpac Stadium.
While the 2-1 and 4-2 wins at home were comfortable for the Phoenix, the most recent match at Sydney Football Stadium was a backs-to-the-wall affair that saw Wellington outplayed everywhere but on the scoreboard. In the end a 13th minute header from Paul Ifill was enough for the Phoenix to complete the smash and grab raid.
“They’ve been a team we seem to have got good results against this year,” Durante said. “It always gives you that little bit more confidence knowing that we can beat them and we have beaten them in different ways.”
“They pretty much put us under the pump the last time we played them at the Sydney Football Stadium. But we defended well. In the other two games we really took it to them and put them on the back foot.”
“We just really need to concentrate on ourselves and make sure our passing is good and make sure we’re doing the right things – finishing has been a talking point over the last couple of weeks.”
“If we get all that right on the night, I can’t see us losing this game.”
Coach Ricki Herbert is unlikely to make changes to the XI that went down to Central Coast Mariners last weekend.
Tony Lochhead suffered a knock to the knee and left the field early against the Mariners but has trained this week with no ill-effects after an MRI scan cleared him of anything but bruising.
Daniel is also back in the selection mix after recovering from an ankle injury, but could find himself on the bench as teams are allowed an extra replacement player in the finals series.
“I think that consistency (in the starting XI) has been good. Most of that XI have been part of Sydney wins before too,” said Herbert.
“Probably what we know is best for us at the moment. We get an extra one on the bench which might just give us a slightly different option than we’ve had in the past.”
The Phoenix are generally more attack-minded when playing in front of their home crowd and against Sydney this season when they have scored first they have gone on to win.
“We’re good at that at home and we’ve got to be good at it tomorrow night,” said Herbert.
“You’ve got to take advantage of home advantage. We’re here, it’s our ground and our crowd. We’re not having to travel across the Tasman which is great for us.
“It’s in our best interests to get things going well and to certainly start well.”