Women’s Match Preview: Wellington Phoenix vs. Adelaide United

The Wellington Phoenix are hungry for more success in the Liberty A-League after breaking through for their first win last week.

The Phoenix play host to Adelaide United at WIN Stadium in Wollongong on Thursday night, six days after their historic 3-0 victory in Canberra.

Head coach Gemma Lewis addressed the team when they reviewed the match and asked the players if they were satisfied with one win in their maiden season.

“Everyone was like ‘nah’,” Lewis told media on the eve of the Adelaide match. “They’re not just happy with that one win. They’re hungry for more.

“We feel like these next three games there are definitely opportunities. I’m not going to sit here and say we’ll get all three wins…but I think we can definitely get one or two.

“Based on how we’ve been playing I don’t think we’d be happy coming away from the season with just a win, which is funny because if you asked me that before the start of the season I’d probably be extremely, extremely happy.

“We’re trying to hold ourselves to higher standards now.”

The Phoenix also now have the added incentive of trying to avoid the wooden spoon.

“Okay we’ve got our first win but now actually as a team they want to get off the bottom of the table and they feel like it’s achievable,” Lewis said.

“I think we’ve proved we’re not push overs for the whole season and…now we’re not going to be the definite team to come last.”

Adelaide United are also riding a wave. The Reds beat Brisbane Roar 8-2 on Sunday, with Fiona Worts scoring five goals.

“This game will be really interesting. Two teams that are coming off a high and I’m really hoping we’ll see both teams at a really good standard.

“I think that it’ll be an exciting game to watch if Adelaide come out really strong and if we come out really strong in the things that we are known for then I think it will really be a battle.

“It’s definitely a game that we’re targeting. We feel like it’s a good match-up.”

Centre back Mackenzie Barry will lead the Phoenix on Thursday night, with club skipper Lily Alfeld away on international duty with the Football Ferns and vice-captain Kate Taylor out with a back injury.

“The game’s come around a bit too soon for Kate, which is a really disappointing for one for us,” Lewis said.

“She hasn’t trained all week. We probably could get her on the field, but we feel like it’s too much of a risk on this tight turnaround.

“This is an 18-year-old girl and this is her back. We definitely have to err on the side of caution before we start taking crazy measures with huge painkillers or any local anaesthetics.”

Brianna Edwards will make her first start in goal in Alfeld’s absence.

Gemma Lewis says Edwards is “a mix of nerves and excitement”.

“Sometimes she seems really nervous and sometimes she’s just raring to go. I think it’s a positive thing. I think it’s a good mix.

“She really cares. She’s come in and doing the extra work with us and going through footage. She’s making sure she knows everything that she needs to be doing which shows her added professionalism and the fact that she really wants to do well for this team.

“I’m really excited for her. I’m really excited to see how she goes.”

Unfortunately Lewis won’t have a specialist goalkeeper on her bench after the club’s application for an exemption to sign a short-term replacement for Alfeld fell on deaf ears at Football Australia.

An outfield player will have to wear a goalkeeper’s uniform and sit on the bench, but won’t be able to come on in any position other than in goal.

On a positive note forward Kelli Brown is a possibility of returning against Adelaide, after missing the team’s past five matches with concussion.

“If she gets through today then technically she would be cleared to play. But we just want to really, really make sure with her so we’re definitely leaving it till very much last minute.

“She trained this morning and a lot of this morning she was doing headers and set plays and things like that so we just want to make sure she gets through the day symptom free.”

Defender Cushla Rue is a chance of making her debut after being cleared to return from an ankle injury which has side-lined her for three matches.

The round 12 Liberty A-League match between the Wellington Phoenix and Adelaide United is scheduled to kick-off at WIN Stadium in Wollongong at 6:35pm AEDT (8:35pm NZT) and will be broadcast LIVE on Paramount + and Sky Sport 7.

Most recent meeting:
21 January 2022 – Adelaide United 1 Wellington Phoenix 0

All-time head-to-head: Phoenix 0W, Adelaide 1W & 0D.

Wellington Phoenix squad: 1. Lily ALFELD (gk) (c), 2. Saskia VOSPER, 3. Kate TAYLOR, 4. Mackenzie BARRY, 5. Jordan JASNOS, 6. Isabel GOMEZ, 7. Chloe KNOTT, 8. Grace WISNEWSKI, 9. Ava PRITCHARD, 10. Grace JALE, 11. Kelli BROWN, 12. Brianna EDWARDS (gk), 13. Te Reremoana WALKER, 14. Cushla RUE, 15. Zoe MCMEEKEN, 16. Hannah JONES, 17. Talitha KRAMER, 18. Annabel MARTIN, 19. Charlotte LANCASTER, 20. Alyssa WHINHAM.
Unavailable: 1. Lily ALFELD (gk) (c) (international commitments), 3. Kate TAYLOR (back injury), 18. Annabel MARTIN (knee injury)