Wellington Phoenix will do well to gain a point given their home form this year has been less than pleasantWellington Phoenix and Central Coast Mariners will meet in Round 14 of the 2013-14 A-League season at Westpac Stadium on Sunday, January 12 at 5pm AEDT.
Played 19 – Phoenix 5, Mariners 11, Draws 3
Mariners 1-0 Phoenix, December 19, 2013
Past five matches:
It's not often Wellington Phoenix go into a match in better form than their opponents but it's hard to argue with the ninth-placed Phoenix after their best away win on New Year's Day. Phoenix import Stein Huysegems answered his critics with a brace and an assist to help the Wellington club to their third consecutive victory. The confident former Belgian international earned Player of the Round plaudits for his performance as Wellington Phoenix hammered Western Sydney Wanderers 3-1 in Parramatta. The match was the first time in the season where the hosts had conceded more than two goals and meant the second-placed Wanderers weren't able to capitalise on a shock Brisbane Roar loss. The Phoenix still find themselves in ninth spot but are only five points adrift of the top six.
Central Coast Mariners lost New Zealand international Michael McGlinchey to J-League club Vegalta Sandai ahead of their goalless stalemate with Melbourne Heart. While both sides had a number of chances, the point was enough to see the Gosford-based club sneak into third spot on 20 points, one point ahead of Melbourne Victory and Sydney FC. The stalemate was the Mariners' third home draw of the season to go with four wins and the solitary 0-1 loss to Brisbane Roar on November 10.
The big issue:
Phoenix – While they have started to show some cohesion, Wellington's biggest problem is not capitalising on opportunities. An out-of-sorts Jeremy Brockie, who hasn't scored since round four, has been confirmed to start and will continue to come under pressure should he go another round without scoring. The hosts will also miss the enthusiastic Paul Ifill for the rest of the season with an Achilles injury.
Mariners – It has been said before and it will need to be addressed again: Consistency. A chance to sew up consecutive matches for the first time this season should have been taken against a poor Melbourne Heart side who had sacked coach John Aloisi in the build-up to the game. It doesn't get any easier for the Mariners, with Sydney FC their next opponent following the Phoenix match-up.
The game breaker:
Tyler Boyd – the young forward has been in impressive form off the bench for the hosts and earned a goal and an assist in that 3-1 win over Wanderers. Boyd's link-up play with Huysegems is starting to bear fruit and he should feature heavily towards the end of the match if Brockie misses the target again.
Prediction: Phoenix 1-1 Mariners
Wellington Phoenix will do well to gain a point given their home form this year has been less than pleasant. Prior to their 2-1 win over Sydney FC on November 22, the Wellington club drew three and lost two at their 'home' matches, which included games in Christchurch and Napier. Whether the Mariners will be able to fire remains to be seen, but given the hosts haven't secured a win against their opponents since August 2010 there will certainly be a sense of righting the wrongs of the nearly three-and-a-half years since their last result. An early goal should settle the hosts, but we're expecting a tight affair through midfield that could prove to be the difference.