The Wellington Phoenix aim to change club history on Saturday by beating the Brisbane Roar back-to-back in Queensland for the first time.
Wellington beat the Roar 3-0 in their most recent isuzu-UTE A-League meeting in March last year. It is only the third time the Phoenix have taken three points home from Brisbane in 23 attempts.
Brisbane Roar finished second from bottom last season, but have made a strong start to the 2022-23 campaign. They sit fifth on the ladder and are unbeaten at the renamed Kayo Stadium in Redcliffe so far this season.
The Roar have conceded half as many goals as the Phoenix through the first 11 rounds and have kept four clean sheets.
Coach Talay: ‘We need to be patient’
“They’re a difficult squad to break down,” Talay told media on Friday. “They’re a team that likes to defend and they defend well as a unit.
“They haven’t conceded a lot of goals this season. They changed their formation twice this season where he’s (coach Warren Moon) gone into a back four, but I think he’s preferred the back five system more often.
“It’s a game where we need to be patient with the ball and try to break them down, and make sure we stop them on the counter because they’ve got some quick players with (Nikola) Mileusnic playing up front.
“They’re probably second behind Sydney in the long ball stats. They’re a team that’s quite direct.
“It’s very important that we’re focussed. We may have a lot of ball in this game and we’ve just got to make sure we can capitalise on the opportunities we create against a team that hasn’t conceded a lot of goals.”
Talay is without top goal scorer Bozhidar Kraev and midfielder Nicholas Pennington for the trip to Brisbane. They are both serving one-match bans after being sent off in the second-half of the dramatic win over Sydney.
“BK’s done well since he’s come in for us. He scores goals and he assists so he’ll be a massive loss for us, but we’ve got players who will step in and take that role.
“Opportunities arise when players are injured or suspended.
“We’ve got Yan (Sasse) that can play there [and] we’ve got Oldie (Ben Old) that can play there. Oldie hasn’t had enough training in his legs to start the game and go through the full 90, but we’ll make the decision which we think is best for the team.”
Old was among the substitutes in Sydney after missing the Phoenix’s previous two games following a hernia operation.
“Last week he was modified and we still included him in the gameday squad, and this week he’s had a full week which is great for us.
“The hardest thing is when you’re injured, we don’t have a competition under us to give players game time.
“The reality is we need to win games and we need players that are 100% fit to be able do that as well.
“Hopefully, we can try to slowly incorporate him and get him some minutes into his legs.
“At the end of the day it comes down to performance as well. Players need to go out there and earn their spot.”
Roar will be without key midfielder
Brisbane are also without influential Irish midfielder Jay O’Shea because of suspension. O’Shea was sent off in the second-half of Tuesday night’s 2-1 defeat to Perth Glory for a second bookable offence.
The Irishman played the full 90 minutes of the Roar’s previous 10 games and has created 15 goalscoring chances from set plays, the second most of any player in the A-League.
But Brisbane do have their captain back. Centre back Tom Aldred is fit again after missing their past two matches through injury.
Brisbane Roar v Wellington Phoenix
Kayo Stadium, Brisbane, 7pm (NZT)
How to watch
The game will be broadcast LIVE on Sky Sport 1 & 7 in New Zealand and on Paramount+ in Australia.
Most recent A-League meeting: 30 March 2022 – Brisbane Roar 0 Wellington Phoenix 3
All-time A-League head-to-head: Phoenix 10W, Brisbane 21W & 13D.
1. Macklin FREKE (gk), 2. Scott NEVILLE, 3. Jordan COURTNEY-PERKINS, 4. Anton MLINARIC, 5. Thomas ALDRED (c) 6. Connor CHAPMAN, 7. Rahmat AKBARI, 8. Riku DANZAKI, 10. Nikola MILEUSNIC, 11. Jez LOFTHOUSE, 13. Henry HORE, 16. Joshua BRINDELL-SOUTH, 17. Carlo ARMIENTO, 19. Jack HINGERT, 23. Jordan HOLMES, 27. Kai TREWIN, 28. Joseph KNOWLES, 32. James NIKOLOVSKI, 33. Zahi ADDIS, 35. Louis ZABALA.
Unavailable: 26. Jay O’SHEA (suspended), 29. Cyrus DEHMIE, 37. Thomas WADDINGHAM.
3. Finn SURMAN, 4. Scott WOOTTON, 5. Steven UGARKOVIC, 6. Tim PAYNE, 7. Kosta BARBAROUSES, 8. Ben OLD, 9. Oskar ZAWADA, 10. David BALL, 12. Lucas MAURAGIS, 14. Alex RUFER (c), 17. Callan ELLIOT, 19. Sam SUTTON, 20. Oli SAIL (gk), 21. Joshua LAWS, 23. Clayton LEWIS, 24. Oskar VAN HATTUM, 31. Yan SASSE, 40. Alex PAULSEN (gk).
Unavailable: 11. Bozhidar KRAEV (suspended), 13. Nicholas PENNINGTON (suspended).