Wellington Phoenix v Melbourne Heart preview

Both teams here are coming off two losses each which makes this a tough match to pick from a form perspective.

The Phoenix have struggled to find cohesion in their past two encounters (1-0 loss to Newcastle and 3-0 home loss to Central Coast) and will really need to break the shackles here if they are to keep touch with the top six.

Wellington are three points behind sixth-placed Melbourne Victory meaning a win tonight would be invaluable in getting their season back on track.

They regain two key players in midfielder Tim Brown (who has scored their last two goals) and defender Jade North, who was in fine form before heading away on international duty with Australia, which will be a big boost, especially seeing as the Heart have been hit with a couple of injuries.

Dutch midfielder Rutger Worm, arguably Melbourne’s best player over the last month, has succumbed to a groin problem whilst promising striker Eli Babalj, who has been important coming off the bench recently, is set for around six to eight weeks on the sidelines with a hip/thigh injury.

Heart coach John van ‘t Schip will need to make an apt replacement on the left side of midfield for Worm if the team wants to score goals as the Dutchman has been providing plenty of chances of late. He will be hoping his players have picked up some inefficiency in front of goal during the week after they squandered a whole heap of chances in the 2-0 loss to Adelaide United on Friday.

The home ground advantage should have the Phoenix as slight favourites but their form allows the Heart in with a big chance. Maybe a good one to sit on the fence.

Verdict: 2-2 draw

Wellington Phoenix vs. Melbourne Heart
Date: Wednesday, 24 November 2010
Venue: Westpac Stadium, Wellington
Local kick-off: 7:00pm (5.00pm AEDT)
Referee: Jarred Gillett
Match fact: Melbourne Heart midfielder Wayne Srhoj is set to make his 50th Hyundai A-League appearance.

Live and exclusive broadcast on FOX Sports 1, FS1 HD & Sky Sport 1 (NZ). A-League club broadcast partner is The Radio Network (Wellington) 1035AM 774 ABC (Melbourne), and SEN Digital. 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: Tim BROWN (return from suspension), Marco ROJAS (promoted), Jade NORTH (return from international duty)
Out: Nil
Unavailable: Tony LOCHHEAD (groin – 3 weeks), Oscar ROBERT CORNEJO (knee – 3 weeks)

Melbourne Heart squad: 1.Clint BOLTON, 2.Michael MARRONE, 3.Brendan HAMILL, 5.Michael BEAUCHAMP, 6.Matt THOMPSON, 9.Gerald SIBON, 10.Wayne SRHOJ, 11.Alex TERRA, 12.Peter ZOIS, 16.Aziz BEHICH, 17.Jason HOFFMAN, 20.Josip SKOKO, 21.Kliment TASESKI, 22.Nick KALMAR, 25.Adrian ZAHRA
In: Kliment TASESKI (promoted), Jason HOFFMAN (promoted), Brendan HAMILL (promoted)
Out: Rutger WORM (groin 3-4 weeks), Eli BABALJ (hip and thigh 6-8 weeks), John ALOISI (rested) Dean HEFFERNAN (rested)
Unavailable: Kristian SARKIES (broken leg – 2 weeks), Simon COLOSIMO (knee – 1 week)

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