PREVIEW: ‘Huge game’ for Phoenix women as they look for first win of season

posted in: A-League (Women), News

The Wellington Phoenix go into their second women’s A-League game hungry to get an early win in their campaign.

They play Western Sydney Wanderers on Sunday, after both sides lost their opening games in the 2023-24 Liberty A-League.

The Phoenix began their season with a 1-0 defeat to Melbourne City, and need to pick up points to avoid losing touch with the top six.

“It’s huge for us,” Phoenix assistant coach Callum Holmes told media. “Obviously, we don’t want to have a run of games where we’re losing. I think we started last season with six losses in a row.

“Winning’s a habit so we need to make sure we start that habit.”

Main photo: Callum Holmes … ‘it’s huge for us.’

The Nix have a good record against Wanderers. They have drawn two of their four previous meetings, one of which was on debut, and have also beaten Western Sydney.

Wanderers lost 2-0 to reigning champions Sydney FC in their season opener.

“We’re very confident going into the game after watching them back and watching the things we can do,” Holmes said.

“I think it’s just about putting our sequences of passes together. Everyone saw when we put those sequences of passes together (against Melbourne City), they were few and far between, but we actually caused them problems.

“It’s about making sure that we’re more consistent throughout the game and that’s been huge for us this week.

“If we can put into practice those things that we’ve worked on in terms of our sequences of possession then we’ll create more chances and score goals.”

Callum Holmes has been filling in for head coach Paul Temple this week, with Temple away on his OFC pro diploma coaching course.

“He’s actually in Wellington so we talk every day, multiple times a day.

“Of course, you want your head coach here. It is a slight disruption, but the girls and the staff have been great.

“We’re happy with our preparation leading into the game and he’s back tomorrow so at least he’s here for a session before we fly out.”

Annalie Longo … left out of the squad for the Sydney trip.

The Wellington Phoenix are again unable to call on captain Annalie Longo, who picked up an injury ahead of their opening match.

“Annalie’s going to miss out this week. With the international break coming up we think it’s best that we give her another week.

“It’s a long season now, 22 games, so she’s going to miss out and we’re hoping to have her back for round three.

“It’s tough for everyone, mostly for Annalie. It’s been 13/14 months she’s been trying to get on the field for this team, so it’s definitely frustrating for her, but we’re all in agreeance that we just need to make sure we’re in for the long haul.

“If we push her now then it’s going to be difficult for her to last the entirety of the season. She came back from the ACL very quickly and that’s led to a couple of things that have flared up. We just need to manage her a little bit and all will be well.”

The Phoenix coaches otherwise have a near-full squad to pick from, with young winger Manaia Elliott available for selection, despite having to be replaced at halftime last Sunday.

“We took her off as a precaution … and she’s come back really well, so she’ll be involved in some capacity this weekend.”

Milly Clegg won’t be playing against her old club

There will be no reunion with Milly Clegg on the pitch at CommBank Stadium.

The Football Ferns forward moved to Western Sydney Wanderers this year after a breakout season with the Wellington Phoenix, but isn’t allowed to play for Wanderers until she turns 18 next month.

Holmes is looking forward to catching up with Clegg.

“She’s a lovely young girl with great potential so we wish her all well after this weekend.”

Past meetings

Most recent meeting: February 12, 2023 – Western Sydney Wanderers 1 Wellington Phoenix 0

All-time A-League head-to-head: Phoenix 1W, Wanderers 1W & 2D.

How to watch

The game will be broadcast LIVE on Sky Sport 7 in New Zealand and Paramount+ and 10 Play in Australia.


Game to be played on Sunday October 22, 2023

Western Sydney Wanderers v Wellington Phoenix
CommBank Stadium, Sydney, 7.45pm (NZT)


Wellington Phoenix squad (four to be omitted)

1. Rylee FOSTER (gk) 2. Zoe MCMEEKEN, 3. Kate TAYLOR, 4. Mackenzie BARRY, 5. Marisa VAN DER MEER, 6. Macey FRASER, 7. Chloe KNOTT, 8. Grace WISNEWSKI, 9. Kelli BROWN, 10. Alyssa WHINHAM, 11. Hope BRESLIN, 12. Brianna EDWARDS (gk), 13. Michaela FOSTER, 14. Michaela ROBERTSON, (c), 15. Daisy BRAZENDALE, 17. Mariana SPECKMAIER, 18. Hailey DAVIDSON, 20. Emma MAIN, 21. Manaia ELLIOTT, 23. Rebecca LAKE.

Unavailable: 16. Annalie LONGO (injured), 19. Liv INGHAM (injured).

Western Sydney Wanderers squad (two to be omitted)

1. Kaylie COLLINS (gk), 2. Vicky BRUCE, 3. Gemma FERRIS, 4. Madison MCCOMASKY, 5. Lauren KEIR, 6. Amy CHESSARI, 7. Amy HARRISON, 8. Olivia PRICE, 9. Sophie HARDING, 10. Melissa CACERES, 11. Danika MATOS, 15. Cushla RUE, 17. India BREIER, 18. Maliah MORRIS, 20. Shamiran KHAMIS (gk), 21. Alexia APOSTOLAKIS, 23. Ella ABDUL MASSIH, 32. Bethany GORDON.


This story is published with the help of the Wellington Phoenix.

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