This week the Phoenix will take on Melbourne City in Melbourne and attempt to get their run in to the finals back on track.
They head across the Tasman on the back of two consecutive 3-0 home losses to Sydney FC and Melbourne Victory. Last week’s loss to the Victory caused the Nix to fall to fourth on the A-League ladder and saw Melbourne take top spot, which the Nix had occupied for the past few weeks.
The game against Melbourne Victory started in the worst way possible with Gui Finkler opening the scoring for the visitors inside the first minute. Captain Andrew Durante looked furious for allowing such an early goal to be scored, while the rest of the team looked like they had no idea what had just happened.
The scored remained 1-0 at the halftime break with many Nix fans hoping another come from behind victory could be on the cards considering the teams recent strong second half performances. However that would not be the case as Melbourne added two more goals to their scoreline through Archie Thompson and a cruel own goal for Durante.
To make matters worse Joel Griffiths went down heavily in the first half and had to be stretchered off the field. Recent reports out of Nix headquarters suggest he will be out for the remainder of the season with what looks to be a ruptured ACL.
While Griffiths will be a huge loss to Ernie Merrick as he enters the final stage of the season, he does welcome back Albert Riera into the side after sitting out his one match suspension for a red card two weeks back against Sydney FC. However it sounds like Ben Sigmund will again sit out this week with his quad injury meaning Michael Boxall will likely start in the centre back position with Durante.
Likely starting side….
. Fenton Durante Boxall Muscat
. Rodriguez Bonevacia
. Burns McGlinchey Krishna
It was obvious how much the Nix missed Riera’s presence in the centre of the park last week and his addition to the starting side will tighten up the midfield. Vince Lia will also be available to Merrick this weekend but I’d be surprised to see him starting over Rodriguez.
Melbourne has never been a welcoming city for the Nix although their last visit resulted in a historic win over the Victory just five weeks ago. Melbourne City will be a tough challenge at AAMI park where they are undefeated in their last eight matches. Merrick will be desperate to avoid losing three in a row and after failing to find the net in their last two outings you can bet he’ll be working hard with his strikers leading up to the match. If he can get the likes of Burns and Krishna firing again then we could see the Phoenix grab their second win in Melbourne this season.Google+