Women’s Match Preview: Wellington Phoenix vs. Perth Glory

The Wellington Phoenix are “hungry” to get off the bottom of the table and finish their maiden Liberty A-League season on a high.

The Phoenix bring down the curtain on their inaugural campaign on Friday evening, when they host Perth Glory at WIN Stadium in Wollongong.

The Nix start the final round level on points with Western Sydney Wanderers but sit last on goal difference.

The players are driven to avoid the wooden spoon and head coach Gemma Lewis says it was a goal the team set before their historic 3-0 win over Canberra United three weeks ago.

“Other results that we can’t control haven’t necessarily been in our favour otherwise we could have potentially gotten off the bottom of the table already,” Lewis said. “But it’s back in our favour for this game.”

“If we get this result and we get off the bottom of the table we’d all walk away, players and staff, extremely happy.”

That’s because the Phoenix were expected to lose all 14 of their matches, having been thrown together at the last minute and having a limited pre-season.

“Nobody expected us to pick up any points so we’ve already gone above and beyond,” Lewis said.

“Not just the points as well. I get that that’s how most people and most people are judged, and I completely understand that, but I think our performances have exceeded expectations in terms of how we’ve been able to compete for the most part.

“Some games obviously we were quite far off it but a lot of games we’ve been really, really in it and played some good football.”

Lewis believes the Phoenix match-up well against Perth Glory and has declared her side will “throw everything we’ve got at them”.

“I think we’ve got a good chance. Pushing for a draw or a win would be good to give us that hope of getting off [the bottom of the table],”

“You don’t really want to really leave it down to goal difference or be more defensive minded. I think that’s setting yourself up to fail.”

Glory came from 2-1 down at halftime to beat the Phoenix 3-2 in round nine and they are fighting for a place in the top four.

“Obviously they’ve got a lot to play for but our girls are really hungry to get off the bottom of the table.

“The girls are really, really positive in the fact that our last performance against them probably should have been our game, but we gave it to them at the end. So I think they want to rectify that as well.

“It’ll be a tough game but last game, girls know they’re going home…there’s that emotion behind it as well.

 “We saw how we played in the first game when there was that big emotion of that history and now this is the last game, end of the season, end of the first season ever so hopefully that’ll spur them on and help them find that second wind.”

It’s a short turnaround for the Nix, who played and beat Western Sydney Wanderers on Tuesday night and the squad “pretty much self-selects itself”.

The fullbacks who started against Western Sydney, Zoe McMeeken and Talitha Kramer, are both unavailable for selection.

McMeeken sustained a knee injury against Wanderers, while Kramer is suspended after picking up her fourth yellow card of the season.

With midfielder Grace Wisnewski having returned to New Zealand for mental health reasons and defender Annabel Martin still side-lined with a knee injury Lewis has only 16 players to call on.

“It’s a tight turnaround so not going to be as fresh as they would like but last game so everyone knows they can kind of empty the tank.”

Saskia Vosper is likely to start in one of the two fullback spots, with Charlotte Lancaster and Kelli Brown options for the other starting berth. Lewis is also considering moving Mackenzie Barry to the left side of defence and bringing Te Reremoana Walker into a back three.

The final round Liberty A-League match between the Wellington Phoenix and Perth Glory is scheduled to kick-off at WIN Stadium in Wollongong at 5:05pm AEDT (7:05pm NZT) and will be broadcast LIVE on Sky Sport 7 in New Zealand and Paramount+ in Australia. There will be delayed free-to-air coverage of the match on Prime Television in New Zealand at 10pm on Friday night.

Most recent meeting:
31 January 2022 – Perth Glory 3 Wellington Phoenix 2

All-time head-to-head: Phoenix 0W, Glory 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: 8. Grace WISNEWSKI (mental health reasons), 15. Zoe MCMEEKEN (knee injury), 17. Talitha KRAMER (suspended), 18. Annabel MARTIN (knee injury)