Wellington Phoenix v Sydney FC
Saturday 11th September 7:15pm
Home is where the points are! Turn the volume up in the Fever Zone as Phoenix get ready to heap yet more misery on Sydney FC.
After a fruitless fortnight on the road, Phoenix will be glad to get back to Fortress Westpac this weekend, where, in front of their passionate fans, they are unbeaten in 22 matches.
The incentive to continue that run is even greater than usual this week, as not losing for 23 matches in a row at the same venue would equal an Australian national league record – when Sydney United went 23 consecutive matches without defeat at Sydney United Sports Centre from 1996 to 1999.
Adding to Phoenix-s desire for three points is the fact that their opponents are the team that ended their Hyundai A-League 2009/10 season at the Preliminary Final stage in March.
The fact that the devastating defeat came in somewhat controversial circumstances – with one of the goals coming courtesy of Chris Payne-s rogue hand – will make Phoenix all the more eager to exacerbate Sydney-s poor start to the Hyundai A-League 2010/11 season.
It-s been a typically topsy-turvy campaign thus far for Ricki Herbert and his players as, once again they remain impenetrable at home yet unable to take any kind of form on the road with them. Such inconsistency means that, inevitably, the side from New Zealand find themselves in and around the mid-table area.
However, the final twenty minutes of last week-s defeat in Perth – in which they gave this season-s form side a real run for their money, suggests that Phoenix have the wherewithal to be at the right end of the ladder at the end-of-season shake-up.
Sydney too, have the talent and the mindset to be genuine challengers at the business end of the Hyundai A-League 2010/11 season but they need a morale-boosting win sooner rather than later if they are to turn things around.
Indeed, they have the unenviable task of needing three points in Wellington to avoid breaking the club record number of games without a victory, after last week-s rain-sodden home defeat to Adelaide saw them equal their longest winless streak.
After last season-s glory, no-one could have predicted what a testing time The Cove would be experiencing now. Last season, Sydney didn-t sink below 3rd place at any stage, yet now they find themselves looking up at every other team.
While a win at the Westpac Stadium is a tall order for any visiting side, let alone one in such wretched form, playing Phoenix holds no fear for Sydney – for whom midfielder Stuart Musialik is set to make his 50th Hyundai A-League appearance. The NSW club has won the last five encounters between the two, four of which came last season.
Sydney might be struggling at the moment, but they must never be taken lightly, so get ready to make some noise in the Fever Zone. Your support can help Phoenix get some payback for last seasons cruel Finals defeat.
Full squad information and match details will be available at www.a-league.com.au on Thursday.