Friday is a battle between a side with everything to play for and one with nothing left this season but pride under new coach Tony Walmsley. Should make for an entertaining night. Expect goals.
Westpac Stadium, Wellington
Friday, 17 April 2015
Kick-Off: 7:30 PM (Local) (5:30 PM AEDT)
Wellington Phoenix squad: 1.Glen MOSS (GK), 2.Manny MUSCAT, 4.Roly BONEVACIA, 5.Michael BOXALL, 7.Kenny CUNNINGHAM, 8.Alex RODRIGUEZ, 9.Nathan BURNS, 10.Michael MCGLINCHEY, 11.Kwabena APPIAH, 13.Albert RIERA, 15.Jason HICKS, 16.Louis FENTON, 17.Vince LIA, 18.Ben SIGMUND, 19.Tom DOYLE, 20.Lewis ITALIANO (GK), 21.Roy KRISHNA, 22.Andrew DURANTE (c)
***two to be omitted***
Ins: 18.Ben SIGMUND (returns from injury)
Unavailable: 3.Joel GRIFFITHS (knee – indefinite)
Central Coast Mariners squad: 1.Matthew NASH (GK), 2.Storm ROUX, 3.Josh ROSE, 4.Jacob POSCOLIERO, 5.Zac ANDERSON, 7.John HUTCHINSON (c), 8.Nick MONTGOMERY, 10.Anthony CACERES, 11.Nick FITZGERALD, 12.Liam REDDY (GK), 16.Liam ROSE, 18.Glen TRIFIRO, 19.Matthew SIMON, 20.Anthony KALIK, 22.Tom SLATER, 23.Isaka CERNAK, 25.Eddy BOSNAR, 26.Fabio FERREIRA
***two to be omitted***
Ins: 4.Jacob POSCOLIERO (return from injury), 18.Glen TRIFIRO (promoted), 22.Tom SLATER (promoted)
Outs: 24.Hayden MORTON (not selected)
Unavailable: 17.Richard VERNES (shoulder – indefinite), 21.Michael NEILL (foot – indefinite)
TV Broadcast: Live coverage on FOX SPORTS 505 from 5.00pm (AEST) and Sky Sport 3 (New Zealand)
Radio Broadcast: Online/ABC Radio Mobile phone app and via Radio Sport Extra (NZ) online and the i-Heart Radio app
Referee: Peter O’Leary
The top two is still within reach for the Phoenix, but they’ll need to shake off a goal-scoring fug which has descended upon them since the monsoon storm in Brisbane a month ago.
For a team that has scored goals for fun for much of the season, a three-game drought is as puzzling as it is worrying for Wellington fans.
This game would appear to present the perfect opportunity to consign the last five goal-less hours of football to the memory banks.
Newly appointed Mariners boss Tony Walmsley has already been open about implementing an attacking style of football, so it’s unlikely the visitors will drive a bus into Westpac Stadium and park it in front of their goal.
The major revitalisation of this side may have to wait until next season, but the intent was evident in the win over Western Sydney last weekend and there’s nothing to suggest it won’t be on display again here.
Opta Data stats
– The Mariners are the only side in the A-League to fail to win on the road this season. They’ve drawn six and lost six of their twelve away matches.
– The Phoenix are unbeaten in the last four matches between these two sides (two wins and two draws), but the Mariners won eight of the nine meetings before that, conceding just three goals in those nine games.
– The Mariners have scored a league-low 18 goals from inside the penalty area this season.
Route to goal
The previously free-scoring Phoenix have hit a dry spell. Not since August 2008 have they gone three matches without a goal, and should they fail to score in this one, it’ll be an unwanted club record of four straight blank sheets.
Nathan Burns, Roy Krishna, Roly Bonevacia and Roy Krishna were all goal-scorers during March and coach Merrick desperately needs one – and preferably more – of that quartet to rediscover their mojo.
The Mariners have netted in their last six matches, but haven’t scored more than one goal in a game since their 2-4 loss to Sydney FC eight weeks ago.
Fabio Ferreira got both that day and is joint top-scorer with Matt Simon and the now-departed Mitch Duke on three for the season.
No other side has a leading scorer with as few goals.
Who’s been in the spotlight this week?
Interim Mariners coach Tony Walmsley was handed the job full-time for the 2015/16 season after convincing the club’s board and owners he is the man to return the Mariners to former glories.
Form lines (past five games)
Wellington Phoenix: DLLWW
The Phoenix are winless and goal-less in their last three matches, off the back of a four-game winning streak which saw them climb to the top of the Hyundai A-League ladder.
Central Coast Mariners: WLLDL
The Mariners claimed just their fifth win of the season in their final home game of the 2014/15 campaign last weekend.
Did you know?
Mariners fullback Josh Rose played the first A-League season (2005/06) with the now defunct New Zealand Knights, making 12 appearances and scoring the Knights’ first ever Hyundai A-League goal.
Phoenix goalkeeper Glen Moss (who played nine games for the Knights in their first season) and Newcastle Jets midfielder Zenon Caravella (21 games) are the only others still playing in the A-League who also appeared for the Knights.
Wellington Phoenix 3 Central Coast Mariners 1
The Phoenix know a win may well set up a blockbuster battle with Sydney FC next weekend for a spot in the top two. Expect the dam to burst and the goals to flow again as the Phoenix look to get their season back on track in time for the Finals Series.