Melbourne City FC travel to New Zealand in search of a crucial win against Wellington Phoenix at Westpac Stadium on Friday night. We provide a rundown of the latest team news, key quotes and statistics ahead of the Round 21 clash.
John van’t Schip’s side returned to the winners list last week with a comfortable 4-1 win over the Central Coast Mariners, and travel to Wellington knowing a win will take the Club to the top of the Hyundai A-League table.
With crucial fixtures against fellow finals contenders Sydney FC, Adelaide United and Brisbane Roar in the next three weeks, a win at Westpac Stadium will be imperative in City’s hopes of achieving a top two finish.
For eighth-placed Wellington, it will be a no holds barred approach in the final third as Ernie Merrick’s side look to keep their slim finals hopes alive with a win on home soil.
The Phoenix squandered an opportunity to celebrate the club’s 10-year licence extension with a 3-2 loss to Newcastle last week – despite leading twice at Hunter Stadium – but have shown solid form at home, with three wins and two draws from the last seven matches at Westpac Stadium.
A sensational 5-2 win over Western Sydney Wanderers in Round 19 shows how dangerous Wellington can be in front of goal, with Merrick declaring his side will look to fight fire with fire against the competition’s most potent attack.
Head to Head
City ran out comfortable 3-1 winners in the only meeting between the two sides in the Hyundai A-League this season, while John van’t Schip’s side comfortably dispatched an understrength Phoenix outfit 5-1 in the Westfield FFA Cup Round of 16.
Clashes between the two sides in Wellington have often produced a mixed bag of results, however fans will fondly remember the Club’s last trip to Westpac Stadium, with City registering a memorable 2-0 win in last year’s Elimination Final.
With no fresh casualties to report from last week’s win over Central Coast, City welcome back both James Brown and Marc Marino into the fold after recovering from their respective long-term injuries, while Anthony Caceres returns to the squad after serving his one-match suspension.
Connor Chapman and Aaron Hughes have shown positive signs in training and are nearing a first-team return, leaving Corey Gameiro as the Club’s only long-term absentee.
Two goal hero Hamish Watson will be unavailable for Wellington after picking up two yellow cards in last week’s loss to Newcastle, while midfielder Alex Rodriguez will slot back into midfield after returning from injury. Troy Danaskos and Logan Rogerson are also promoted to the extended squad.
van’t Schip’s verdict
“It helps and it puts pressure on other teams if you win again, and the same counts for other teams when they win when they play before us. You have to make sure that in this league, where everybody is very close, you don’t make too many mistakes if you want to finish in the top positions.” – City Head Coach John van’t Schip
“We’re not going to sit back at home to Melbourne City. We need to put on a performance for the crowd with three high players, albeit attacking midfielders, but it will be exciting, especially with Roly Bonevacia coming into it from midfield.” – Wellington Phoenix Head Coach Ernie Merrick.
Dutchman Roly Bonevacia has been one of the few shining lights for the Phoenix this season, netting four goals in the absence of key striker Roy Krishna. The former Ajax youth product has the strength and speed to cause problems for an improving City defence, forging a solid understanding with Michael McGlinchey and four-goal hero Blake Powell.
How to Follow the Match
Friday night’s clash at Westpac Stadium kicks off at 5:30pm AEST and is live on Fox Sports 505 in Australia, and on Sky Sports 3 in New Zealand. You can follow all the match action live on Twitter @MelbourneCity, or by using the match hashtag: #WELvMCY
- Melbourne City have won three and drawn three of their last seven matches against Wellington, keeping three clean sheets in the process.
- There have been two nil-all draws in the last four clashes between these teams, one at each side’s home venue.
- Melbourne City have conceded only one goal in their last four matches against Wellington Phoenix.
- Wellington Phoenix have kept two clean sheets in their last four home matches against Melbourne clubs.
- Andrew Durante has blocked 18 shots so far this season, the second most of any player and only two behind Jake McGing (20).
- Aaron Mooy has been directly involved in 26 of City’s 50 goals this season (9 goals, 17 assists) – more than any other A-League player.