Date – Sunday, 19 March 2017
Venue – Spotless Stadium, Sydney Olympic Park, Sydney,
Australia Time – 19:00 PM (Local) (19:00pm (AEDT)
After disappointing Hyundai A-League campaigns, both Wanderers and Phoenix have the chance to get back on track with maximum points at Spotless Stadium.
Put simply, this is the biggest clash of the season for both teams. Sixth v seventh, a win to either team will ensure they finish the weekend in the finals positions.
It’s that tight in the chase for six. For the Wanderers, should the Jets lose to City on Saturday night, a win over Phoenix would propel them five points clear of their Kiwi rivals with just four rounds remaining.
And they will come into this clash full of confidence after securing an impressive 3-2 win over FC Seoul in the ACL on Wednesday night, their first points on the continental front this campaign.
The Wanderers enjoyed the weekend off in the A-League but the midweek trip to Korea could be a factor against the Phoenix. And their task isn’t any easier with Sunday’s clash to be held at Spotless Stadium, a venue the Wanderers have failed to win at this season.
Meanwhile, Wellington haven’t played since March 4 and will have had two full weeks to prepare for the trip across the Tasman. The Phoenix played out a thrilling 3-3 draw with Glory at home in their last fixture and appear to be finding form after a patchy run of results.
After dropping trio Roly Bonevacia, Tom Doyle and Ryan Lowry for disciplinary reasons three weeks ago, Des Buckingham’s side have responded with vastly improved performances against Roar (won 2-1) and Glory (3-3 draw).
Wellington will view this match as a must-win given they will be without Glen Moss, Roy Krishna, Andrew Durante, Tom Doyle, Michael McGlinchey and Shane Smeltz for next week’s clash with Newcastle Jets.
And with three of their last five matches away from Westpac Stadium, Wellington are going to need to find a way to pick up maximum points on the road.
Western Sydney Wanderers have won four of their last six games against the Phoenix, scoring exactly two goals in five of those six fixtures.
Wellington have scored nine goals in their last four visits to Western Sydney Wanderers, winning twice in that span.
Western Sydney Wanderers have failed to score in their last two games, the last time they went longer without a goal was a four-game streak from December 2014 to January 2015.
Wellington claimed a 2-1 win against Brisbane in their most recent away fixture and now search for back-to-back road wins for the first time since a three-game streak in March 2015.
Star Wanderers trio Nico Martinez, Brendon Santalab and Jumpei Kusukami saw little game-time against FC Seoul and should be fresh for the weekend.
Youngster Lachlan Scott netted his first goal in the Asian Champions League midweek and will be brimming with confidence, while little-used striker Ryan Griffiths failed to see any game time in Korea.
Classy attacking midfielder Terry Antonis continues to improve and was impressive against the K-League outfit, finding the target from the penalty spot to give Tony Popovic’s side a 2-0 advantage.
It will be interesting to see if the unpredictable Popovic will make many changes from his side’s midweek triumph or look to stick with a winning formula.
For Wellington, speedster Kosta Barbarouses will be out to prove a point after being left out of New Zealand’s squad for this month’s FIFA World Cup qualifiers against Fiji.
The former Victory star was a shock omission from Anthony Hudson’s squad last week and will want to put in a big shift to send a message to the Kiwi boss.
Brazilian playmaker Gui Finkler provided a much needed spark on his return from paternity leave last round and looms as a key outlet for the visitors in Sydney.
His composure, guile and eye for goal was a feature against the Glory and the Nix look a far more threatening outfit when he’s in the team.
Wellington’s leading scorer Roy Krishna (11 goals) will also be a danger with the Fijian having netted three goals in his last four appearances on the road.
The hard-working striker netted his first goal in the ACL against FC Seoul on Wednesday night.
He’s now found the net in the Westfield FFA Cup, Hyundai A-League and now the ACL.
Some debut season for the 19-year-old.
Western Sydney Wanderers: WLWLD
Wellington Phoenix: LLLWD
Western Sydney Wanderers 2-1 Wellington Phoenix
Western Sydney Wanderers FC squad:
1.Jerrad TYSON (gk),
20.Vedran JANJETOVIC (gk),
**two to be omitted**
Ins: 7.Steven LUSTICA (promoted), 11.Brendon SANTALAB (returns from injury)
Jacob MELLING (back – indefinite) Wellington Phoenix squad:
1.Glen MOSS (gk),
20.Lewis ITALIANO (gk),
22.Andrew DURANTE (c),
**two to be omitted**
Ins: 2.Jacob TRATT (returns from suspension), 13.Marco ROSSI (returns from injury)