The Wellington Phoenix are focusing on picking up a much-needed three points tonight, as they square off against top-of-the-ladder Central Coast Mariners in a highly anticipated re-match.
The last time these two teams faced off each other – a late January clash at Central Coast Stadium – the Nix came away with a 2-1 win and their first victory of the season. That match featured a first-half goal from Ulises Davila off of a beautiful assist from Tomer Hemed, before Jaushua Sotorio’s late strike sealed the win for the Phoenix.
Two Phoenix players instrumental in that win will sit out this re-match, with Hemed out due to a hamstring injury and Sotirio nursing a knee injury which will side-line him for the next month.
Despite the loss of two key forwards, Wellington is confident of victory thanks to the inspired play of Davila, who has scored a goal in each of his last three matches – leading his team by example, just as he vowed he would do when named Phoenix captain earlier this season.
Another player who stood out for the Phoenix in their first encounter with the Mariners was goalkeeper Stefan Marinovic; his goal-saving effort at the 70 minute mark arguably his best highlight of the young season.
Marinovic says that he has been impressed with the team’s performance this season, despite the team’s record.
“Generally the direction is good, we’ve just got to turn those good performances into results,” says Marinovic.
“I think the main thing for us is just being clinical in those small moments in each game, and we need some of those to go our way for us to get those results.”
The return of Reno Piscopo also gives the Phoenix another solid attacking and creative threat; Piscopo demonstrating his ability against Sydney FC last round when he was subbed in for his first action of the season.
Meanwhile the Mariners are coming off a solid run in the past fortnight, with a pair of 3-2 wins against Western United and Melbourne City.
Undoubtedly the Mariner’s danger man will be forward Alou Kuol, who currently sits first-equal in the Golden Boot race with five goals – a remarkable achievement for the Sudanese 19-year-old. Kuol was the lone Mariner to score against the Phoenix in their first encounter, and his brace in Central Coast’s 3-2 win over Western United last round was the difference maker.
Two other players to watch for the Mariners will be experienced defender Jack Clisby, currently leading the competition in both chances created (18) and cross (53), and forward Matt Simon – who has scored in his past two outings.
Phoenix defender Tim Payne says that despite getting the win over Central Coast last month, the team are wary of facing a Mariners team that is vastly improved from last season.
“We have confidence facing [the Mariners] again given the fact we beat them last time around, but they’re flying high, they’re top of the league – so their confidence will be high as well and they’ll want to get one back on us,” says Payne.
“At the end of the day we’re there to try and put up three points in this match and to hopefully build some momentum.”
The Wellington Phoenix takes on the Central Coast Mariners tonight at WIN Stadium from 4.05pm AEDT (6.05pm NZ Time).
Did You Know?
- Wellington Phoenix have won their last six A-League matches against the Mariners; a seventh consecutive win against them would make it outright their longest winning run against a single opponent (also W6 vs Newcastle Jets from 2010 to 2012).
- Wellington Phoenix have made 428 successful passes per game this A-League season, the second-most of any team in the competition behind Macarthur FC.
- Ulises Davila has scored three of Wellington Phoenix’s four last A-League goals; in fact, he now has scored 0.47 goals per game from his 32 appearances, the best rate for any Phoenix player in A-League history (>10 apps).
At a Glance:
Date: Sunday, 14 February 2021
Kick-off: 4.05pm AEDT / 6.05pm NZ Time
Venue: WIN Stadium, Wollongong
Broadcast: Live coverage on FOX SPORTS 505 from 3:30pm (AEDT)
Sky Sport 7 (New Zealand)
Kayo Sports (www.kayosports.com.au)
MyFootball Live App, Live Fast and Data Free for Telstra mobile customers
Wellington Phoenix squad: 1.Stefan MARINOVIC (gk), 2.Liam McGING, 3.Luke DEVERE, 4.Te Atawhai HUDSON-WIHONGI, 5.James MCGARRY, 6.Tim PAYNE, 7.Reno PISCOPO, 8.Cameron DEVLIN, 9.David BALL, 10.Ulises DAVILA, 12.Matthew RIDENTON, 14.Alex RUFER, 15.Mirza MURATOVIC, 16.Louis FENTON, 18.Ben WAINE, 19.Sam SUTTON, 20.Oliver SAIL, 21.Joshua LAWS, 23.Clayton LEWIS
**1-3 to be omitted**
Ins: 2.Liam McGING (promoted), 19.Sam SUTTON (promoted)
Outs: 17.Tomer HEMED (hamstring injury, 1-2 weeks)
Unavailable: 11.Jaushua SOTIRIO (knee injury, 4-5 weeks).
Central Coast Mariners squad: 1. Mark BIRIGHITTI (GK), 3. Lewis MILLER, 4. Joshua NISBET, 5. Stefan NIGRO, 6. Gianni STENSNESS, 7. Stefan JANKOVIC, 8. Oliver BOZANIC, 10. Daniel DESILVA, 11. Jack CLISBY, 12. Marcos UREÑA, 14. Daniel BOUMAN, 15. Kye ROWLES, 19. Matt SIMON, 20. Adam PEARCE (GK), 21. Ruon TONGYIK, 22. Michal JANOTA, 23. Dan HALL, 26. Jaden CASELLA, 29. Alou KUOL, 32. Max BALARD
**2-4 to be omitted**
Ins: 7. Stefan JANKOVIC (Promoted), 32. Max BALARD (Promoted)
Unavailable: 30. Jordan SMYLIE (Knee – 1-2 Weeks)