The Wellington Phoenix are poised to move into second place on the Hyundai A-League ladder, with a win against Adelaide United this Saturday.
The Phoenix moved to 39 points with their victory over Perth Glory on Wednesday and now sit a point behind second-placed Melbourne City - who have played a game more than the Nix. That win also all but assured Wellington of a top-six spot and a place in the Finals next month, as well as extending the gap between them and both Perth and Brisbane.
This is the second time Wellington will face Adelaide this season. In their December 2019 match-up, the Phoenix came roaring back from a 0-1 deficit for their first away victory of the season, thanks to second-half goals from Ulises Davila and David Ball; the latter his first goal of the season.
The lone goal scorer for Adelaide in that match, winger Nikola Mileusnić (5 goals this season), will sit out the rest of the season due to a foot injury – meaning Carl Veart’s Reds will rely even more on their leading goal-scorer, 21-year-old Riley McGree (10 goals this season), to produce.
Meanwhile the Phoenix will be without midfielder Matti Steinmann for this match due to suspension, so will rely on their deep midfield to cover in his absence; Alex Rufer and Brandon Wilson in line for minutes alongside stalwarts Reno Piscopo and Cameron Devlin.
Coach Ufuk Talay says that looking ahead, the fate of the rest of the season is now in the club’s hands.
"Our focus from day one was to make the top six; so now we'll push as much as we can for that second spot."
With only a two-day turnaround between matches, Talay will says that it’s an opportunity for some of the younger players in the squad to step up and make their mark.
"The most important thing is to make sure we have players fit leading into the finals, so we're going to have to rely on the depth of our squad.
“We have talented young players, and that’s what I set out to do from day one, is bring in young players and give them opportunities - young players will go through a brick wall for you because you give them the opportunity, that’s what you want as a coach.”
Two youngsters who demonstrated their ability on Wednesday against Perth were man of the match Callum McCowatt and defender Te Atawhai Hudson-Wihongi. Captain Steven Taylor praised Hudson-Wihongi’s inspiring performance following the match.
“In the second half I thought our character showed through, especially when Te came on and made some crucial headers – Te’s effort was needed massively.”
The Wellington Phoenix will take on sixth placed Adelaide United at Bankwest Stadium on Saturday 25 July from 7pm.
Did you know?
- Ufuk In Charge - Coach Ufuk Talay has won 12 of his first 22 matches this season, the best record for a first-year Hyundai A-League coach since the 2012/13 season.
- Penalty Winners – Wellington Phoenix have won six penalties throughout the 2019/20 Hyundai A-League season, the joint-most of any team in the competition – and they have converted all six of them into goals.
- Dávila Duels – Ulises Davila has contested (324) and won (162) the second-most duels of any player this season, behind only Western Sydney Wanderer’s Mitchell Duke.
At a Glance:
Date: Saturday, 25 July 2020
Kick-off: 7pm NZT
Venue: Bankwest Stadium, Sydney
Broadcast : (NZ) Sky Sport 7, (AUS) Fox Sport 507, Kayo Sports. International Broadcasters here.
Wellington Phoenix squad: 1.Stefan MARINOVIC (gk), 2.Liam McGING, 4.Te Atawhai HUDSON-WIHONGI, 7.Reno PISCOPO, 8.Cameron DEVLIN, 9.David BALL, 10.Ulises DAVILA, 11.Jaushua SOTIRIO, 12.Brandon WILSON, 13.Liberato CACACE, 14.Alex RUFER, 16.Louis FENTON, 17.Callan ELLIOT, 21.Callum McCOWATT, 23.Walter SCOTT, 27.Steven TAYLOR (c), 30.Zac JONES (gk), 31.Ben WAINE, 32.Sam SUTTON, 88.Gary HOOPER
**2-4 to be omitted**
Ins: 2.Liam McGING (promoted), 17.Callan ELLIOT (promoted), 23.Walter SCOTT (promoted), 31.Ben WAINE (promoted)
Outs: 3.Luke DEVERE (Not Selected), 5.Matti STEINMANN (Suspended – 1 match)
Unavailable: 6.Tim PAYNE (Suspended – 2 matches), 20.Oliver SAIL (gk) (Suspended – 2 matches)
Adelaide United squad: 2.Michael MARRONE, 4.Ryan STRAIN, 6.Stefan MAUK, 7.Ryan KITTO, 8.Riley McGREE, 11.Kristian OPSETH, 14.George BLACKWOOD, 18.Lachlan BROOK, 20.Paul IZZO (gk), 22.Michael JAKOBSEN (c), 23.Jordan ELSEY, 24.Pacifique NIYONGABIRE, 26.Ben HALLORAN, 27.Louis D’ARRIGO, 34.Yared ABETEW, 36.Noah SMITH, 40.Dakota OCHSENHAM (gk), 41.Jackson WALLS, 42.Taras GOMULKA, 49.Mohamed TOURE
**2-4 to be omitted**
Ins: 18.Lachlan BROOK (promoted), 27.Louis D’ARRIGO (promoted), 34.Yared ABETEW (promoted), 41.Jackson WALLS (promoted)
Outs: 17.Nikola MILEUSNIĆ (foot), 35.Al Hassan TOURE (hamstring)
Unavailable: 10.James TROISI (knee), 16.Nathan KONSTANDOPOULOS (knee - season), 29.Kusini YENGI (pelvis)