The Wanderers’ astonishing season reached its peak last weekend with the club moving to the top of the Hyundai A-League ladder following a record-equalling eighth straight win.
Date: Sunday, March 10, 2013
Kick-off: 5pm AEDT
Venue: Parramatta Stadium, Sydney
Played: 2 – Wins: Wanderers 1, Phoenix 1
Phoenix 0-2 Wanderers, January 13, 2013
Past five matches:
The Wanderers’ astonishing season reached its peak last weekend with the club moving to the top of the Hyundai A-League ladder following a record-equalling eighth straight win. And they couldn’t have done it in better fashion, with Labinot Haliti’s goal giving them a 1-0 away win against previous top-dogs Central Coast.
The next challenge for Tony Popovic’s side is breaking the record for consecutive wins before trying to hold onto to top spot over the last four games of the regular season. And they will fancy their chances of accomplishing the first goal with bottom-placed Wellington heading to Wanderland on Sunday.
The Phoenix kept their faint finals hopes alive with a narrow win over Melbourne Heart last weekend but will need to improve immensely if they are to trouble the confident Wanderers. The two sides have met twice this season in Wellington, with one win apiece.
The Big Issue:
Wanderers: There’s not too many issues when you’re on a record-breaking winning streak but there’s a different pressure on Western Sydney heading into this weekend. The Wanderers have thrived on being the hunter all season long but how will they react now they are on top and are being hunted.
There’s no doubt Popovic’s players have proved they can handle pressure but it’s always a little different when you’ve got something to lose.
Phoenix: Wellington handed interim boss Chris Greenacre his first win in their triumph over the Heart last weekend. In what’s been a forgettable and frustrating season, it was arguably the side’s most impressive performance.
But the Phoenix haven’t been able to back up a good showing twice in a row this season and you can’t afford to be even a little bit off your game if they plan to cause an upset against the Wanderers.
Mark Bridge: Bridge has led the way in the goal-scoring department all season for the Wanderers. And while the left-sided attacker hasn’t troubled the scorers for the last few games, his contribution has still been pivotal in the club’s winning run. The Wanderers have won their last two matches 1-0 with the former Sydney FC man providing the assist for both those goals.
Prediction: Wanderers 3-0 Phoenix
The Wanderers are on the verge of an historic win and it’s hard to see anything but that happening. They are confident, fit and riding a huge wave of momentum. Wellington simply aren’t playing good enough to trouble the home side in this one.