Expect goals as the home side in fourth spot look to recapture their stunning pre-Asian Cup form while sixth placed City will be out for a positive response following their derby day loss last week.
Wellington Phoenix v Melbourne City
Hutt Recreation Ground, Lower Hutt
Saturday, 14 February 2015
Kick-Off: 5:00 PM (Local) (3:00 PM AEDT)
Wellington Phoenix: 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, 12.Tyler BOYD, 13.Albert RIERA, 15.Jason HICKS, 16.Louis FENTON, 17.Vince LIA, 18.Ben SIGMUND, 20.Lewis ITALIANO (GK), 21.Roy KRISHNA, 22.Andrew DURANTE (c), 23.Matthew RIDENTON
***two to be omitted***
Ins: 12.Tyler BOYD (promoted), 23.Matthew RIDENTON (promoted)
Melbourne City FC: 1.Andrew REDMAYNE (GK), 4.Connor CHAPMAN, 6.Aaron MOOY, 7.Iain RAMSAY, 8.Massimo MURDOCCA, 10.Robert KOREN, 11.Damien DUFF, 15.David WILLIAMS, 16.Josh KENNEDY, 17.Jason HOFFMAN, 18.Paulo RETRE, 20.Tando VELAPHI (GK), 22.Jack CLISBY, 24.Patrick KISNORBO (c), 25.Jacob MELLING, 29.Safuwan BAHARUDIN, 40.Marko STEVANJA (GK)
***one to be omitted***
Ins: Tando VELAPHI (GK)
Unavailable: 3.Robbie WIELAERT (ankle – 1-2 weeks), 14.James BROWN (knee – 1-2 weeks), 19.Ben GARUCCIO (ankle – 2-3 weeks), 23.Mate DUGANDZIC (knee – 1-2 weeks)
TV Broadcast: Live and exclusive coverage on FOX SPORTS 505 from 3.00pm (AEDT) and Sky Sport 2 (New Zealand)
Radio Broadcast: ABC Radio Online/ABC Radio Mobile phone app, Radio Sport Extra online and via the i-Heart Radio app.
Referee: Chris Beath
This shapes as a crucial game for both sides for different reasons.
At a new – albeit temporary – home ground, the Phoenix will be desperate to arrest their post-Asian Cup mini-slump which has seen them lose consecutive games, having won four straight before the break.
After occupying sixth place on the A-League ladder since the start of December, Melbourne City are in danger of dropping out of the playoff spots with Brisbane breathing down their necks.
In fact, City will start the game outside the top six if Brisbane avoid defeat against the Mariners on Friday night.
With Westpac Stadium unavailable due to the Cricket World Cup, the Hutt Recreation Ground will host A-League action for the first time. Temporary seating has boosted the ground’s capacity to 9000 with a full house expected.
OPTA DATA STATS
City have struck defensive troubles on their recent travels, conceding 18 goals in their last six away games, including five against the Phoenix in Wellington in late November.
On the other hand, the Phoenix have been extremely hard to break down at home, conceding just three goals in their last five home matches. These two sides have met thirteen times previously, with the Phoenix winning six, Melbourne City three, and four draws.
There have been forty goals in those thirteen matches (including 15 in the last three), with the Phoenix failing to score in just two and Melbourne City in just three of those 13 games. Of the seven meetings in New Zealand, the Phoenix have won five, drawn one and lost only once.
ROUTE TO GOAL
Before the Asian Cup, Nathan Burns was the hottest striker in the A-League, ably assisted by Roy Krishna and Michael McGlinchey. All three are crucial to the Phoenix’s success in the front third and Burns in particular will want to continue the form that earned him Socceroos selection and attracted significant overseas interest.
After 18 goalless games, Aaron Mooy has netted four times in the last seven and leads City’s goal-scoring charts.
Robert Koren’s hat-trick against the Jets still represents his only goals of the season but he presents a constant threat, while Josh Kennedy provides a huge boost to the City front-line. Many of City’s best attacking moves originate through the excellent Damien Duff and no side has more headed goals than City’s eight this season.
WHO’S BEEN IN THE SPOTLIGHT THIS WEEK?
Socceroo Josh Kennedy made his A-League debut for City from the bench against Melbourne Victory on Saturday night and is line to play a greater role against Phoenix.
Wellington Phoenix: LLWWW
The Phoenix won four straight (and six from seven) before the Asian Cup break, but consecutive away losses have slowed their momentum. The 0-2 loss to Western Sydney was also their first goal-less outing since round four, a club record.
Melbourne City: LWLWD
An excellent (and unbeaten) December lifted City from their early season slumber, but they’ve since lost two of their last three. With the teams below them showing some semblance of form, John van’t Schip’s side will need to find some consistency to hold their place in the top six.
DID YOU KNOW?
The Hutt Recreation Ground was the scene of the 1987 Trans-Tasman Cup clash between New Zealand and Australia. After a 1-1 draw in Melbourne a week earlier, the All Whites claimed the Cup with a 1-0 win in torrential rain, courtesy of a goal from Fred de Jong.
Wellington Phoenix 3-2 Melbourne City FC
History suggest there’ll be goals in this one, probably for both sides. Apart from the departed Jeremy Brockie, the Phoenix have the same players who combined to such great effect before the Asian Cup break, so there’s nothing to suggest that form can’t be recaptured. City come stacked with attacking threats, with Kennedy, Koren, Mooy and Duff all capable of producing goals.