The Wellington Phoenix travel to Brisbane tonight to face off against the Roar tonight, in a battle of two of the competition’s in-form teams - with both clubs sitting on the cusp of a coveted top six spot.
A win by either team tonight will put them into sixth place, at the expense of a slumping Macarthur FC side, while a loss will spell an end to one team’s unbeaten run; Wellington unbeaten in their last four matches (3W, 1D) and Brisbane in their last five (3W, 2D).
Fresh off of their 2-1 win over Adelaide United last Sunday which featured a last-minute penalty goal by striker Tomer Hemed, the Phoenix are rounding into form at the right time – especially on offense.
The club is currently tied with Adelaide for second-most goals in the competition with 32 in 19 matches, and are ranked first in Big Chance Conversion at over 60%. The Nix have also crept up into fourth place in the competition for goal conversion (16%), showing immense improvement in this area after struggling at the start of the season.
A key reason for this success has been the impressive play of 19-year-old forward Ben Waine, who has scored in each of his last four matches to bring his season tally up to six. A goal tonight will put Waine in the record books as the only Phoenix player to have scored goals in five successive matches.
Equally impressive has been Waine’s efficiency in achieving this feat; in his past four matches he has taken seven shots at goal and netted four, a 57% success rate, and been on target for an incredible 86% of those attempts (6/7). This feat saw Waine deservedly included in the A-League Team of the Week, for the first time in his career.
Another bright spot for Wellington is the return of Reno Piscopo to the line-up, after missing the past six matches due to a calf injury he suffered during the Phoenix’s 4-1 win against Melbourne Victory back in March. Although expected to be on a minutes restriction, Piscopo’s return – and the creativity he brings to the team – will look to unlock the Phoenix’s attacking potential even further.
Brisbane Roar come into this match on the back of a 4-0 win versus Central Coast Mariners, which saw Macaulay Gillesphey and Joey Champness score in the first 56 minutes, then both Alex Parsons and Masato Kudo take advantage of a 10-man Mariners side to register goals of their own.
Despite this, the Roar tend to rely on their two leading goal scorers in Dylan Wenzel-Halls (7 goals) and Riku Danzaki (6 goals), with no other current player on their squad registering more than two goals – in comparison, the Phoenix have five such players.
But it is on the defensive end where Brisbane stand out, having conceded a competition-best 17 goals to tie them with Sydney FC for second-equal in the A-League for Goal Differential (+8).
This ranks as an all-around defensive team effort, with the Roar ranked third-best in both Shots Faced and Shots on Target Faced – although this reputation will be tested as they continue to play without their captain Tom Aldred, who is recovering from a hamstring injury.
Wellington last encounter with Brisbane in Match Week 13 ended in a 1-1 draw; Hemed scoring just before half-time before sub Golgol Mebrahtu slotted home the equaliser in the 86th minute. The Nix won’t be content with a draw in this re-match however, as they eye another chance to move into – and stay in – that top six spot.
The Wellington Phoenix take on Brisbane Roar at Moreton Daily Stadium in Redcliffe tonight at 5.05pm AEDT (7.05pm NZT).
Did you know?
- Outside the Box: Tonight’s matchup sees two teams – and two players – who excel in scoring outside the box; Wellington leading the A-League this season with eight goals scored outside the box (four of those to Ulises Davila) and Brisbane with seven (three to Wenzel-Halls)
- Boys in Blue: this will be the third time this season that the Wellington Phoenix have worn their popular ‘blue’ Away jerseys; they’re undefeated in two away matches while earing this kit (1W, 1D)
- Great at Drawing: Six of the last 10 A-League matches between Wellington Phoenix and Brisbane Roar have ended in a draw; the remaining four matches in that span have seen each team pick up two wins apiece
Wellington Phoenix squad: 1.Stefan MARINOVIC (gk), 2.Liam McGING, 5.James MCGARRY, 6.Tim PAYNE, 7.Reno PISCOPO, 8.Cameron DEVLIN, 9.David BALL, 10.Ulises DAVILA, 11.Jaushua SOTIRIO, 12.Matthew RIDENTON, 13.Charles LOKOLI-NGOY, 14.Alex RUFER, 16.Louis FENTON, 17.Tomer HEMED, 18.Ben WAINE, 19.Sam SUTTON, 20.Oliver SAIL, 21.Joshua LAWS, 23.Clayton LEWIS, 27.Steven TAYLOR
**2-4 to be omitted**
Ins: 2.Liam McGING (promoted), 7.Reno PISCOPO (return from injury), 12.Matthew RIDENTON (promoted)
Outs: 15.Mirza MURATOVIC (not selected)
Unavailable: 3.Luke DEVERE (knee injury, 3 weeks), 4.Te Atawhai HUDSON-WIHONGI (Achilles injury, 1 week)
Brisbane Roar FC squad: 1.Macklin FREKE (gk), 2. Scott NEVILLE, 3.Corey BROWN, 6.Macaulay GILLESPHEY, 8.Danny KIM, 9.Masato KUDO, 10.Riku DANZAKI, 11.Joe CHAMPNESS, 15.Jesse DALEY, 16.Joshua BRINDELL-SOUTH, 17.Golgol MEBRAHTU, 19.Jack HINGERT, 21.Jamie YOUNG (gk), 22.Patrick FLOTTMANN, 23.Dylan WENZEL-HALLS, 25.Rahmat AKBARI, 26.Jay O’SHEA, 27.Kai TREWIN, 29.Jordan COURTNEY-PERKINS 34.Alex PARSONS
**2-4 to be omitted**
Ins: 3.Corey BROWN (returns from suspension), 8.Danny KIM (promoted)
Unavailable: 5.Tom ALDRED (hamstring)