The Wellington Phoenix are confident of kicking off the new year with another win, as they look to look to extend their seven-match unbeaten streak against the Central Coast Mariners this Saturday.
This match, the first in the newly-branded Sky Stadium in Wellington, is also the club’s first ‘kids go free’ match this season; children and families are encouraged to come along and cheer on their hometown team who are in serious winning form.
Coach Ufuk Talay has said that the Phoenix are focussed on picking up all 12 points in January, with three home and one away match to play during this month – all against clubs ranked outside of the top six.
Central Coast stands as the first test in this four match run, and it’s fair to say the Phoenix had the Mariner’s number last season; winning all three matches against them by a combined 13 goals to four, highlighted by a 8-2 away win last March – the most goals the Phoenix have scored in a match in their 13 season history.
The Phoenix continue to grow in both form and dominance this season, spear-headed by their 3-1 thrashing of rivals Western United in Ballarat last round – arguably their best game of the season. Goals by David Ball, Callum McCowatt and the always-dangerous Ulises Davila showed that their offence is multi-faceted and a team effort; and with the recently re-signed Jaushua Sotirio expected back in action this Saturday, they’ll be keen to kick it up yet another notch.
In recognition of their dominance, The Phoenix also saw three players in the Hyundai A-League team of the week for Round 12; with Cameron Devlin (making his third straight appearance), Liberato Cacace and Davila all representing their Wellington side.
Meanwhile, the Mariners come into this match having lost three of their past four matches; their lone victory coming against Adelaide United just before Christmas. Defence has been a particular issue for Central Coast this season, and they’ve been overly reliant on goalkeeper Mark Birighitti – who leads the Hyundai A-League with 45 saves to his name - to clean up their defensive lapses.
Interestingly, although Alen Stajcic's side currently sits in ninth position, they have two games in hand on several teams above them on the ladder - including the Phoenix, who sit five points above them.
The Wellington Phoenix will look to continue their golden run – and achieve their first test of getting four wins in January – this Saturday 4th January from 7pm, in their first ‘Kids go free’ match this season.
- First-half Lockdown: In Wellington Phoenix’s last seven matches (W4, D3), they have only conceded one first-half goal in this period.
- Road-Weary Mariners: The Central Coast Mariners have won just two of their last 29 Hyundai A-League away matches (D5, L22), despite going into halftime in a favourable position on 17 occasions in that run (ahead eight times, level nine times).
- See Phoenix Run: The Phoenix are undefeated in their last seven matches (W4, D3), the last and only time they’ve been on a longer unbeaten run was a nine-match span (W5, D4) across December 2018-January 2019.
At a Glance:
Date: Saturday, 4th January 2020
Kick-off: 7pm NZT
Venue: Sky Stadium, Wellington
Broadcast (NZ) Sky Sport 7
Wellington Phoenix Squad:
1.Stefan MARINOVIC (gk), 2.Liam McGING, 3.Luke DEVERE, 4.Te Atawhai HUDSON-WIHONGI, 5.Matti STEINMANN, 6.Tim PAYNE, 7.Reno PISCOPO, 8.Cameron DEVLIN, 9.David BALL, 10.Ulises DAVILA, 11.Jaushua SOTIRIO, 13.Liberato CACACE, 14.Alex RUFER, 20.Oliver SAIL (gk), 21.Callum MCCOWATT, 23.Walter SCOTT, 27.Steven TAYLOR (c), 31.Ben WAINE, 32.Sam SUTTON, 88. Gary HOOPER
**2-4 to be omitted**
Ins: 11.Jaushua SOTIRIO (return from illness), 14.Alex RUFER (return from injury), 23.Walter SCOTT (promoted), 32.Sam SUTTON
Unavailable: 16.Louis FENTON (shoulder - season)
Central Coast Mariners Squad:
1.Mark BIRIGHITTI (gk), 2.Ian Zygmunt GORDON, 3.Jack CLISBY, 4.Eunsun KIM, 6.Giancarlo GALLIFUOCO, 7.Milan ÐURIĆ, 9.Jordan MURRAY, 10.Tommy OAR, 11.Daniel DESILVA, 12.Adam PEARCE (gk), 15.Kye ROWLES, 16.Dylan FOX, 17.Samuel SILVERA, 18.Gianni STENSNESS, 19.Matthew SIMON, 21.Ruon TONGYIK, 26.Joshua NISBET, 27.Lewis MILLER, 29.Jair BRITTO, 30.Dylan RUIZ-DIAZ
**2-4 to be omitted**
Ins: 15. Kye Rowles (Promoted), 21. Ruon TONGYIK (Promoted)