The Wellington Phoenix are keen to pick up their first win of the 2020/21 A-League season, as they take on bottom-placed Newcastle Jets at WIN Stadium tonight.
It’s very important we get all six points from our next two games and start to build that momentum going forward. - Ufuk Talay
This will be Wellington’s first match in 15 days, and only their second time back at their home ground in Wollongong since playing Sydney FC on 2 Jan.
They’ll be without both suspended midfielder Alex Rufer, who was sent off thanks to a controversial red card in their 1-1 draw against Macarthur FC, and Reno Piscopo as he continues to work his way back from a calf injury.
The Phoenix will be greatly encouraged by the play of their imports against Macarthur FC in the previous round, with Tomer Hemed and Ulises Davila making their first starts of the season and David Ball scoring a difficult goal in the first half off a pass from James McGarry.
Both McGarry and Clayton Lewis have impressed so far in the young season, as has newcomer Joshua Laws with his steadying play at centre back. And Cameron Devlin has continued to build on his impressive play from last season, acting as a gritty disruptor that can cause havoc against opponents in the midfield.
Meanwhile the Newcastle Jets have been winless in four matches this season, giving up a competition-leading seven goals allowed during this time - versus three goals scored.
Despite their record, young players Valentino Yuel and Ramy Najjarine have impressed, and the club has established vets in Nikolai Topor-Stanley, Roy O’Donovan and captain Nigel Boogaard to rely on.
Coach Ufuk Talay says that despite the Jets record, they should still be viewed as a dangerous team under interim coach Craig Deans.
“They’ll have a bit of pressure on them to win the game but also they’ll have nothing to lose – it’s always a tough opponent to play against when there’s little expectation to win,” says Talay.
“But they’ve maintained a core group of players over the past three or four seasons, some very experienced players so it will still be a difficult game for us.”
Talay says that it’s important for the Phoenix to win their next two games so they can stay “close to the pack” on the A-League competition ladder.
“It’s very important we get all six points from our next two games and start to build that momentum going forward – teams are a lot closer to each other and I think it’s going to be a great race until the end of the season.
“I believe we’re a very good team and the football we played against Macarthur – until we went to 10 men – was some really good football, we know we’re up there and we’ll be challenging to be better than we were last season.
“So we’ll continue to build every game, and I feel if we’re clinical against Newcastle then we’ll come away with the three points.”
The Wellington Phoenix takes on the Newcastle Jets tonight at WIN Stadium from 6.10pm. Tickets are available from www.ticketmaster.com.au
At a Glance:
Date: Sunday, 24 January 2021
Kick-off: 6.10pm AEDT / 8.10pm NZ Time
Venue: WIN Stadium, Wollongong
- Live coverage on FOX SPORTS 505 from 6:00pm (AEDT)
- Sky Sport 7 (New Zealand)
- Kayo Sports (www.kayosports.com.au)
- MyFootball Live App, Live Fast and Data Free for Telstra mobile customers
Wellington Phoenix squad: 1.Stefan MARINOVIC (gk), 2.Liam McGING, 3.Luke DEVERE, 4.Te Atawhai HUDSON-WIHONGI, 5.James MCGARRY, 6.Tim PAYNE, 8.Cameron DEVLIN, 9.David BALL, 10.Ulises DAVILA, 11.Jaushua SOTIRIO, 12.Matthew RIDENTON, 15.Mirza MURATOVIC, 16.Louis FENTON, 17.Tomer HEMED, 18.Ben WAINE, 19.Sam SUTTON, 20.Oliver SAIL, 21.Joshua LAWS, 23.Clayton LEWIS
**2-3 to be omitted**
Ins: 4.Te Atawhai HUDSON-WIHONGI (promoted), 19.Sam SUTTON (promoted)
Outs: 14.Alex RUFER (suspended, 1 match)
Unavailable: 7.Reno PISCOPO (calf injury, 1 week).
Newcastle Jets squad: 1.Lewis ITALIANO (gk), 2. Johnny KOURTROUMBIS, 3.Jason HOFFMAN, 4.Nigel BOOGAARD (c), 6.Steven UGARKOVIC, 9.Roy O’DONOVAN, 11.Ramy NAJJARINE , 13.Maki PETRATOS,15.Tete YENGI, 18.Jack ARMSON, 17.Valentino YUEL, 19.Kosta PETRATOS, 21. Luca PRŠO, 23.Jack DUNCAN (gk), 24.Connor O’TOOLE, 25.Jack SIMMONS, 27.Lucas MAURAGIS, 28.Blake ARCHBOLD , 32.Angus THURGATE, 44.Nikolai TOPOR-STANLEY
**2-4 to be omitted**
Ins: 21.Luca PRŠO (new signing), 18.Jack ARMSON (promoted), 28.Blake ARCHBOLD (promoted)
Outs: 14.Ali ABBAS (hamstring - 1 week)
Unavailable: 5. Ben KANTAROVKSI (calf - 2 weeks), 22. Lachlan JACKSON (ankle - 3 weeks)
Ufuk Talay Photo Credit: Jamie Castaneda