Phoenix Rises From A-League Ashes

Image courtesy of couriermail.com.au
Roar striker Besart Berisha - missing this week and gone at season's end. Image courtesy of couriermail.com.au

Though it sits in second-last place on the A-League ladder, Wellington is the form side of the competition with four wins and a draw from its last five matches. In this purple patch, Phoenix has surprisingly travelled well, beating Heart 1-0 in Melbourne and the Wanderers 3-1 in Sydney. Throw in solid performances at home such as a 5-0 romp over Victory and a 1-0 success over Sydney FC, as well as a 1-1 draw with Central Coast, and the boys from across the ditch have picked up 13 points out of a possible 15.

In the same period, Roar has notched two wins, a draw and two losses. Interestingly, the two defeats have come at Suncorp Stadium which is supposed to be its fortress. Two weeks ago, Brisbane went down to Adelaide 2-1 and in round 11 Newcastle toppled the frontrunner on its sacred turf 2-0 . At their latest start, the two-time champions were held to a 0-0 draw by Glory in Perth.

So far, Brisbane has avoided back-to-back losses this season and regularly bounced back from defeat in grand style. The week after going down Roar rebounds include a 3-1 win over the Wanderers, 3-0 against Heart and 5-2 over Sydney FC. Mike Mulvey’s outfit also goes into this contest knowing it has never lost to Wellington at home, having won eight and drawn three of 11 in front of home fans. In fact, Phoenix hasn’t picked-up maximum points against Brisbane in six meetings since a 2-0 win in Wellington in December 2011. The visitors will also miss key play-makers Carlos Hernandez and Kenny Cunningham this week. They are on international duty.  

The hosts will be without Victory-bound striker Besart Berisha. He's serving a mandatory suspension after being sent off in Perth. It will be interesting to see how Brisbane backs-up after finishing consecutive matches with 10 men. Berisha only played 32 minutes against Glory before being marched, while the previous week Diogo Ferreira was red-carded in the 40th minute of the heartbreaking 2-1 loss to the Reds. Ferreira is back from suspension, with youngsters James Donachie and Corey Brown also available. Ivan Franjic is still a week away.   

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