Phoenix mark year playing away in A-League

·2-min read

They seem to have spent more time in Australia than Zac Efron but for Wellington Phoenix a Hollywood ending will be harder to come by.

Sitting 10th on the A-League ladder, the Wollongong-based New Zealand side will look to continue their recent good form when they play Western Sydney Wanderers at Bankwest Stadium on Monday night.

The match marks a year to the day that the Phoenix last played a game in front of a home crowd in Wellington - a 3-0 win over Melbourne Victory.

It has been something of a rollercoaster ride since: they finished a stunning third during last year's regular-season only to quickly bow out of the finals race while 2020-21 has been more of a struggle.

Yet with two wins on the trot and successive clean sheets, there is a sense of optimism.

"I think the mood and spirit with the team is quite high, that's what wins give you," coach Ufuk Talay said.

Playing a more compact defensive style and being more clinical in front of goal has been key to the victories against Perth and Newcastle.

With the expected return of Jaushua Sotirio, their attack will be bolstered further still.

"He gives us some different attributes with his speed and his pace," Talay said of Sotirio.

The Wanderers have had disappointing losses in their past two starts at home but with back-to-back games at a venue they usually thrive at, key midfielder Nicolai Muller is confident they can get on a roll and ensconce themselves in the top six.

"This is a problem, that we win away and we don't win at home so we want to change this," the German said.

"We have two home games and we want six points."

The most recent meeting between the Phoenix and Wanderers in February ended in an entertaining 2-2 draw.

KEY MATCH STATS

* The Wanderers have won four of their past six against the Phoenix, with just one draw and a loss, averaging three goals a game over that time.

* The Phoenix have something of Monday night jinx, winless in their 12 A-League matches played on the day.

* The Wanderers have lost consecutive games at Bankwest Stadium - but in their nine-year history have never been beaten at their home venue in Parramatta three times in a row.