Wellington Phoenix started their 2013/14 A-League season with a loss to Brisbane Roar last week. After controlling the game for most of the first half and heading into the break with a 1-0 lead, all signs were pointing towards a Nix victory. However Brisbane came out firing in the second half, scoring almost immediately to level the match and set up a tense finish. Then with ninety minutes up on the clock and the game appeared to be destined for a draw, which most Nix fans would have gladly taken, Ivan Franjic broke their hearts with the match winner off a Thomas Broich rebound.
While the season started on a losing note, there were a lot of positives to take from the round one match against the Roar. Almost everyone were predicting a heavy loss for the Nix due to Brisbane’s impressive preseason form and because the Nix were without a number of key players due to international commitments. The fact that the game went right to the death not only surprised most football fans but also a few die-hard Nix supporters.
There were a number of players who put in a solid performance, albeit for a losing cause.
- Huysegems made the most of Jeremy Brockie’s absence by getting his name on the score sheet with the first goal of the game. It could be argued that the tall Belgian forward has not quite made the impact Nix fans were expecting since arriving in New Zealand and they will be hoping his early season goal is an indication of things to come this season from the man affectionately known as “Waffles”.
- Another player making the most of the absence of the Nix international players was stand-in goalkeeper Jacob Spoonley. The regular keeper for Wellington’s domestic football team earned his second A-League start due to the absence of Glen Moss and reserve keeper Lewis Italiano out injured. Spoonley did an outstanding job between the sticks, shutting down one the best strikers in the league (Berisha) on numerous occasions and in the process putting a lot of pressure on Italiano for the reserve keeper’s position.
- Hernandez made a solid debut for the Nix and was worthy of the man of the match award. The former Victory player appeared to be everywhere in the midfield and provided the crucial link from the back-line to the strikers that the Phoenix have been missing for a number of seasons. His pairing with fellow Nix debutant Kenny Cunningham will be one to watch over the next few weeks.
Western Sydney Wanderers vs Wellington Phoenix
Kickoff: 5pm (AEDT), 7pm (NZST), Sunday 20 October.
Played 3: Wanderers 2, Phoenix 1.
Wanderers defeated Phoenix 2-1 at Parramatta Stadium (10 March, 2013).
This weekend the Nix will head to Australia for the first time this season to take on reigning minor premiers – Western Sydney Wanderers. While the Wanderers enter the match as raging hot favourites, there’s no reason why the Nix shouldn’t fancy their chances of causing an upset.
They will welcome back Jeremy Brockie, Glen Moss, Andrew Durante and Leo Bertos into the squad after an unsuccessful trip to the Americas resulting in three draws for the All Whites. Expect to see Moss slot straight back into the keeper’s position while Brockie may be forced to the bench as Merrick sticks with the in-form Huysegems.
Phoenix Possible Line Up:
. Adams Durante Sigmund Caira
. Muscat Riera
. Ifill Hernandez Cunningham
Bench: Brockie, Hicks, Boyd, Spoonley, Boxhall
While a win for the Nix will go down well, all signs point towards a Wanderers victory. If there is to be any chance of an upset, Wellington need to hit the deck early and do their best to silence the rowdy Red & Black Bloc who will be in full voice at the Wanderers first home game of the season. The Wanderers looked far from their best in their opening match against the Mariners and will know they need to improve against a rejuvenated Phoenix side.
Wanderers 1 – 1 Phoenix.Google+