Match preview: Wellington Phoenix v Melbourne City

Tim Cahill will make his first visit to New Zealand as Phoenix take on Melbourne City in a crucial six-pointer.
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Phoenix's teenage reporter Dan Moskovitz casts his eye over a crucial A-League six-pointer as Manny Muscat returns to Westpac and Tim Cahill plays his first game in New Zealand.

Setting the scene:

It hasn’t been easy travelling for Phoenix recently - their 3-0 win against the Victory was followed by late heartbreak against Brisbane Roar when Phoenix conceded in the 85th minute, before drawing 2-2 against Adelaide in stifling conditions.

The following trips to New Plymouth and Sydney resulted in consecutive 3-1 losses to Western Sydney Wanderers and Sydney FC. However, Phoenix have only conceded three goals at Westpac this season, although City were one of those teams to score at Westpac. Phoenix will also welcome back ex-Phoenix player, Manny Muscat.

Classic encounter:

You can hardly go past our 5-1 win here at Westpac on 30 November, 2014!

Not only was it a huge win for the Nix, but it was also the sight of the first ever Phoenix hattrick. Despite being under the pump for the majority for the first half, Nathan Burns managed to get past goalkeeper Andrew Redmayne to put it in the net.

Roly Bonevacia put one in as well 5 minutes before half time. The break didn’t stop the goal fest, with Burns getting his second, and Krishna sending one into the top left corner. A David Williams penalty got City onto the score sheet, but, once again five minutes from time, the Phoenix were awarded a spot kick.

With regular penalty taker, Roy Krishna substituted, Nathan Burns put one in the top left corner to send the home fans into a frenzy for the first ever Phoenix hattrick.

Melbourne City’s recent form:

LWLLD.

An injury and suspension-stricken team managed to claim a 2-2 draw with Brisbane Roar. In the four games before that, they lost 2-1 against Adelaide, before beating Central Coast 2-1, then losing away against the Newcastle Jets, and also losing against Victory in the Melbourne derby.

Team news:

Two in, two out for the Phoenix. Captain Andrew Durante and Gui Finkler both picked up their fifth yellows of the season, ruling them out of this clash.

However, Des Buckingham and Chris Greenacre should be able to re-call Shane Smeltz and Marco Rossi, who missed the Sydney match through suspension and injury, respectively.

For City, Michael Valkanis can re-call Manny Muscat, Osama Malik, Tim Cahill, Bruno Fornaroli, Luke Brattan, and Fernando Brandan, all who missed the Roar match through suspension.

Players to watch:

Phoenix: Roy Krishna. Not only is the flying Fijian one goal away from making this season his most fruitful for the Nix, but he also enjoys playing against City, having scored four goals in his last 11 appearances against City.

City: Bruno Fornaroli. The current golden boot holder has a good record when playing against the Nix, having scored five in his last six, against the Nix.

Elsewhere in the A-league: (Times NZDT)

Friday 17 February

Adelaide United vs Newcastle Jets 9:50 PM

Saturday 18 February

Western Sydney Wanderers vs Sydney FC 9:50 PM

Sunday 19 February

Perth Glory vs Brisbane Roar 12:00 AM

Central Coast Mariners vs Melbourne Victory 7:00 PM