A-League preview: Wellington Phoenix v Melbourne Heart

With the season slipping by, both sides need victories to keep their finals' ambitions healthy. Will the flood gates finally open for either team in front of goal?
GOAL.com Indonesia   By GOAL.COM


Bertos, Durante, Sigmund, Lochhead
Lia, Muscat, Sanchez
Fenton, Huysegems, Brockie


Marrone, Vrankovic, Gray, Behich
Fred, Garcia, Thompson
Williams, Tadic, Germano

Both Wellington Phoenix and Melbourne Heart desperately need a win to ensure the gap between themselves and the A-League's top six getting any greater than it already is.

Both have recorded just three wins this season, with the Phoenix sitting seventh and a spot ahead of the Heart.

The problems have been at both ends of the park for the two sides, with goals increasingly hard to find and keeping teams at bay also difficult.

John Aloisi's Heart have the equal worst attack in the A-League, with just 13 goals in 12 league matches this campaign.

Richard Garcia and Josip Tadic [three goals each] and David Williams [two] are the only Heart players to manage multiple goals this season - a real area of concern for Aloisi.

The Phoenix looked like they had found a real goalscorer in Stein Huysegems early in 2012-13, but have now become reliant on Jeremy Brockie up front.

Huysegems is without a goal since October 27, while the loss of Paul Ifill to an ankle injury for up to six weeks only compounded their problems.

The Belgian striker is sure to get his chances against an inexperienced Heart defence, which will be missing Simon Colosimo and Patrick Gerhardt due to suspension.  Steven Gray should debut for the visitors at the back, alongside Australia youth representative David Vrankovic.

Three points separate the sixth-placed Newcastle Jets and the Phoenix, making this a vital encounter for both teams.

Questions remain over whether the Phoenix can not only start winning again, but string a run of victories together to bolster their chances of making the top six.

An opening-week win over Sydney was followed by five matches without a victory.

After a 1-1 draw against the Central Coast last time out, the Phoenix must back up from their effort against the league leaders with a positive result over the Heart.

The Heart, meanwhile, need to start taking their chances after wastefulness cost them during the 2-1 loss to the Victory in Melbourne's A-League derby on Saturday.

Positively for the Heart, they are creating opportunities, but unless they start converting, their problems will continue to grow.

The Heart squandered several chances against the Victory but, if they click – like against the Brisbane Roar earlier this season – they are capable of going on a run.

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