The Wellington Phoenix take on Perth Glory this afternoon, as they look to keep their all-time unbeaten record at Eden Park intact.
This match is important to Wellington for obvious reasons; a victory here tonight coupled with a win next Friday versus Macarthur Bulls, would all but assure the Phoenix of a top six finish and a place in the Elimination Finals.
In addition to staying unbeaten at Eden Park, there is another streak on the line too; a win (or draw) tonight will extend the Nix’s win streak to a club-record ten matches, besting their nine-game stretch they matched last season.
Wellington has enjoyed success against Perth this season. Their first encounter at WIN Stadium in MW11 saw the Nix best the Glory 3-0, while their MW17 re-match at HBF Park resulted in a 3-0 thrashing - thanks to goals from Ben Waine, Louis Fenton and Jaushua Sotirio.
Wellington’s run of form can be put down to several factors; the presence of Steven Taylor being one. Since joining the team in March the Phoenix have only lost once, with Taylor leaving the field early due to injury in that lone loss.
Tomer Hemed’s recent form has been another boon for Wellington; with four goals in his last three matches, Hemed now has nine goals this season over 19 games – placing him second all-time in Goals Scored Per Game Ratio (2.11) behind only Eugene Dadi.
And the availability of both Ulises Davila and Reno Piscopo for tonight’s match provides a massive boost for the Nix – Davila returning from a three game absence due to injury, and Piscopo persevering through a shoulder injury against Western Sydney in the last match.
Like Wellington, Perth come into this match on an unbeaten streak of their own – five games undefeated (4W, 1D) with their last match a draw against Macarthur Bulls, which saw veteran Diego Castro claim his third goal of the season.
However, all five games played during this streak have been played at HBF Park in Perth – the Glory playing their last eight matches in a row at home. So this will be their first away match since MW16, with Perth going winless (2D, 4L) in their last six away matches.
As always, the team will rely on Castro’s on-field presence, along with the goal-scoring prowess of Bruno Fornaroli (11 goals this season). With Chris Ikonomidis sitting out due to injury - after scoring in four of the Club’s last six matches - contributions from Nicholas D’Agostino and Joel Chianese will be vital if the team wants to take away three points.
A dark horse for Perth could be Andy Keogh, who scored all four of his goals this season against Western Sydney only three games prior.
The Wellington Phoenix take on Perth Glory at Eden Park in Auckland from 3.35pm NZT today.
Did you know:
- Wellington Phoenix have scored nine goals from outside the box this season, the joint-most of any player in the competition.
- Wellington Phoenix has conceded just one goal in the opening 15 minutes this season, the fewest of any team in the competition.
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, 13.Charles LOKOLI-NGOY, 14.Alex RUFER, 16.Louis FENTON, 17.Tomer HEMED, 18.Ben WAINE, 19.Sam SUTTON, 20.Oliver SAIL (gk), 21.Joshua LAWS, 23.Clayton LEWIS, 27.Steven TAYLOR, 41.Ben OLD
**2-4 to be omitted**
Ins: 2.Liam McGING (promoted), 10.Ulises DAVILA (return from injury)
Unavailable: 3.Luke DEVERE (knee injury, 1 week)
Perth Glory squad: 1.Tando VELAPHI (gk), 2.Jason GERIA, 5.Jonathan ASPROPOTAMITIS, 6.Osama MALIK, 8.Kosuke OTA, 9.Bruno FORNAROLI, 10.Andy KEOGH, 11.Joel CHIANESE, 13.Luke BODNAR, 15.Brandon WILSON, 17.Diego CASTRO, 18.Nick D'AGOSTINO, 19.Callum TIMMINS, 20.Carlo ARMIENTO, 22.Josh RAWLINS, 23.Dane INGHAM, 24.Daniel STYNES, 26.Giordano COLLI, 29.Darryl LACHMAN, 33.Liam REDDY (gk)
**2-4 to be omitted**
Ins: 22.Josh RAWLINS (promoted), 24.Daniel STYNES (promoted), 26.Giordano COLLI (promoted)
Outs: 7.Chris IKONOMIDIS (international duty)
Unavailable: 4.Sebastian LANGKAMP (groin – 1-2 weeks)