Shinji Ono has extended his Wanderers deal through to next season. Image courtesy of news.com.au
Sunday’s match sees first against tenth; a team aiming to collect the Premier’s Plate in the first season against a side which, realistically, can do little more than try to avoid the wooden spoon.
Western Sydney celebrated its eighth win in succession last week with probably its best victory to date, a 1-0 decision over the Mariners in Gosford. The victory put the Wanderers two points ahead of Central Coast and in pole position to take out the minor premiership and have home advantage throughout the finals series. Apart from Tahj Minnecon, who is out for the season with a foot injury, coach Tony Popovic has a full squad to choose from.
It’s not just the weather that is bleak in Wellington these days. Long-time coach Ricki Herbert stepped down two weeks back as Phoenix lurched from bad to worse in a season of disappointment. Assistant coach Chris Greenacre took over for the remainder of the campaign, and a 1-0 win over Melbourne Heart last week at least gave the Wellington faithful something to cheer about. The Kiwis are yet to record back-to-back wins this campaign, though. Mid-season signing Isaka Cernak returns from injury for this match, although former Belgium international Stein Huysegems is out due to suspension.
The teams’ previous two contests were both played in Wellington. Phoenix took out the opening encounter 1-0 before the Wanderers reversed that result with a 2-0 victory in round 16. The New Zealand side’s away form has been terrible, picking up just five points out of a possible 33 this season.
Click here to bet on A-League matches