So, the Wellington Phoenix’s Westpac Stadium bubble has finally been burst meaning they are actually human at home.
It took league leaders Brisbane Roar to impose the first loss on the Phoenix in 25 games at the venue and now the Central Coast Mariners will come to town knowing they are a chance to at least take a point home with them.
The Phoenix did hit back from that 4-1 loss to the Roar by edging the struggling Perth Glory last Sunday but they still remain outside the top six, which many pre-season pundits, including myself, picked them to easily make come seasons end.
This week, Phoenix players led by skipper Andrew Durante and Jade North said that defence will now be a priority as the team strives to keep more clean sheets, making them a much tougher opponent and helping them achieve the results they require to push for a second-consecutive finals berth.
They get that chance to shore up their back third when they meet the Mariners but they should not expect it to be an easy task as Graham Arnold’s men are a very difficult team to play against, no matter what style you employ.
They have the blue collar citizens in Rostyn Griffiths, Patrick Zwaanswijk and Matt Simon who team up well with the attacking nature and flair of Josh Rose, Oliver Bozanic and Michael McGlinchey making them a tough prospect to face, especially when they have their tails up after two wins on the trot.
Central Coast are capable of taking this one out but I feel that the Phoenix will be desperate to get at least get something from the encounter, indicating that a draw is on the cards.
Verdict: 1-1 draw
Wellington Phoenix v Central Coast Mariners
Date: Saturday, 13 November 2010
Venue: Westpac Stadium, Wellington
Local kick-off: 7.30pm local (5.30pm AEDT)
Referee: Peter Green
Head-to-head: All matches (played 10): Wellington Phoenix wins 5, Central Coast Mariners wins 3 (2 draws)
Match fact: Wellington Phoenix defender Andrew Durante is set to make his 100th Hyundai A-League appearance
Live and exclusive broadcast on FOX Sports 1, FS1 HD & Sky Sport 2 (NZ). A-League club broadcast partner is The Radio Network (Wellington) 1035AM and 96.3 Coast FM (Gosford). To purchase tickets visit www.ticketek.co.nz
Wellington Phoenix squad: 1. Mark PASTON (gk), 2. Manny MUSCAT, 4. Nick WARD, 6. Tim BROWN, 7. Leo BERTOS, 8. Paul IFILL, 9. Chris GREENACRE, 11. DANIEL, 13. Troy HEARFIELD, 14. Mirjan PAVLOVIC, 15. Jade NORTH, 17. Vince LIA, 18. Ben SIGMUND, 19. Danny VUKOVIC (gk), 21. Marco ROJAS, 22. Andrew DURANTE (c), 23. Dylan MACALLISTER, 26. Simon ELLIOTT *three to be omitted*
In: Nick WARD (promoted), Troy HEARFIELD (promoted), Mirjan PAVLOVIC (promoted)
Unavailable: Tony LOCHHEAD (groin – 5 weeks), Oscar ROBERT CORNEJO (knee – 5 weeks)
Central Coast Mariners squad: 2. Daniel MCBREEN, 3. Joshua ROSE, 4. Pedj BOJIC, 6. Patrick ZWAANSWIJK, 8. Rostyn GRIFFITHS, 10. Patricio PEREZ, 11. Oliver BOZANIC, 12. Matthew LEWIS, 14. Michael McGLINCHEY, 16. Trent SAINSBURY, 17. Chris DOIG, 18. Alex WILKINSON (c), 19. Matt SIMON, 20. Mathew RYAN (gk), 22. Mustafa AMINI, 23. Adam KWASNIK, 30. Paul HENDERSON (gk) *two to be omitted*
In: Trent SAINSBURY (promoted)
Out: John HUTCHINSON (international duty)
Unavailable: John HUTCHINSON (international duty), Brad PORTER (knee – 12 weeks), Jess VANSTRATTAN (knee – season)