John Aloisi's men need to end their woeful record outside of Victoria this season if they are to make the top six and have an impact in the finals
|By MICHAEL HUGUENIN
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The Jets produced their first victory in Wellington in 10 attempts on Wednesday and Aloisi will be reminding his players they will not get an easier opportunity to win on the road than against the Phoenix.
Heart have won only one game away from AAMI Park this season, knocking off city rivals Melbourne Victory 2-1 at Etihad Stadium in round one.
In fact, Heart's last win outside Victoria came in December, 2011, against Sydney FC, 15 matches ago.
Aloisi has taken an 18-man squad to Dunedin where Heart will take on the Phoenix with Patrick Gerhardt returning from a one-game suspension, while Jason Hoffman and Ben Garuccio have been promoted.
Liberian central defender Gerhardt is the most likely of the trio to be inserted straight into Heart's starting line-up having started every game he has played for the Red and Whites since joining the club before this season.
Phoenix caretaker manager Chris Greenacre has not made any changes despite Wellington losing 2-1 to the Jets - their third defeat in four games.
While the Phoenix have managed just one point from their past four fixtures, the New Zealand-based club have remained fairly solid at home with two wins and three draws from their past seven home games.
While Heart will hope this form does not translate to Dunedin's Forsyth Barr Stadium for Sunday's game, Wellington did knock off Perth Glory 1-0 in Auckland at the start of February.
Aloisi's team clearly has a psychological issue playing away from AAMI Park and it is hard to imagine why this will suddenly change this week.
Heart are four spots and six points ahead of the Phoenix but with six consecutive defeats on the road, the Red and Whites cannot be relied upon outside Victoria.
The start of the game will be crucial with both sides struggling with their own unique psychological issues.
Heart will gain confidence from the fact Wellington have only kept one clean sheet in 14 matches but the Phoenix's record of 13 goals in the same period (including a 3-2 win over the Red and Whites on December 27) suggests a draw is likely unless the visitors can score twice.