Melbourne City FC will begin a busy April schedule when it plays its rescheduled fixture against Wellington Phoenix away from home as the team looks for another important three points to strengthen its grip on top spot in the league.
The City boys will welcome back Marco Tilio and Connor Metcalfe in what will be a huge boost for a squad already high on confidence after securing a pair of away wins despite fielding two severely depleted starting lineups last week against Brisbane Roar and Macarthur FC.
That latter win against Macarthur was, admittedly, decided by a lethal combination between returning superstars Mathew Leckie and Jamie Maclaren, with the Socceroos pair respectively adopting crosser/finisher roles to score the game’s only goal in the 64th minute.
Amidst a close title race where collecting maximum points is paramount, City will look to extend its winning run to three consecutive games when it takes on Wellington Phoenix in a rescheduled clash from early March.
City and the ‘Nix have met previously this season, but fans will hardly want to remember the 0-0 stalemate over 120 minutes in the FFA Cup Quarter Final, especially given the team’s exit from the competition on the ensuing penalty shootout.
Fans should expect a vastly different contest this time around, with City missing several key players in that Cup clash and Wellington later signing Mexican winger Gael Sandoval, who has three goals and three assists in 11 A-League appearances.
Most recently, Ufuk Talay’s Phoenix side last travelled to Brisbane where it picked up a big three points on the road against the Roar. Ben Waine and Ben Old both struck in the second half after a first half own goal to seal a 3-0 result, while Oli Sail was brilliant in between the sticks as he has been for much of the season.
An interesting dimension that could decide the match is whether City can capitalise on having the longer break between games, with this being Wellington’s third fixture in a week whilst Patrick Kisnorbo’s side has enjoyed a full seven days break since its 1-0 win over Macarthur. This is especially pertinent given that the Phoenix have allowed 82% of their goals conceded after half-time in league games this season.
Wellington Phoenix FC vs Melbourne City FC
Saturday 2 April, kick-off 4:35pm