Determination to return to form and to put right one of the biggest rorts of the Hyundai A-League season will be all the motivation the Wellington Phoenix need on their return to Hindmarsh Stadium tomorrow to face second-placed Adelaide United.
The Phoenix have copped it this week because of their failure in the home game against Sydney after decent efforts in Australia where they thrashed Newcastle and picked up a worthy draw in Perth.
Even the club owners have chipped in, but coach Ricki Herbert remains his own man and will make the calls he feels necessary to get the side back to where they need to be.
In a major change, Dani Sanchez returns for his first start of the season slipping into an attacking midfield role in behind central striker Stein Huysegems who will have Paul Ifill and young Louis Fenton playing wide.
Alex Smith will drop to the bench, while Jeremy Brockie has not made the trip as he was not 100 per cent recovered from a lower hamstring strain this week. There was a feeling Brockie could have answered the call on match day but with only 15 players travelling it was not worth the risk.
After comments made this week, Herbert is keen to take an attacking approach into the game and has Benjamin Totori and Tyler Board as his other substitutes.
The fourth round clash at Hindmarsh Stadium was one of the most controversial games of the season. The Phoenix, undefeated at that point of the season, went to the break ahead after Huysegems scored in the 42nd minute.
Adelaide got back to 1-1 before the Phoenix were denied what appeared to be a goal when Brockie was, dubiously, flagged for offside. Then, from an offside position, the home team went ahead before Ben Sigmund was sent off after Jeronimo Neumann took a dive.
Phoenix captain Andrew Durante let rip after the match and referee Jarred Gillett was not required the following week. The challenge now is for the Phoenix to put that and their lack-lustre showing a week ago behind them.
Goalkeeper and captain Eugene Galekovic returns from international duty for the match, in which the Reds will want a win to keep pressure on leaders Central Coast who were at home to Melbourne Heart overnight.
"Adelaide are a bit of a bogey team for us," said Herbert. "But we are going there with a positive attitude and want to play the attacking football we have produced at times this season."
On that basis, Totori is likely to get more game time as he continues to fit into the role Herbert sees for him against tiring defences.
In the match of the round today, third-placed Melbourne Victory will face defending champions Brisbane Roar, who go into the round in equal last place with Sydney FC.
Adelaide United v Wellington Phoenix
Tomorrow 7pm (live SS3)
Referee: Strebre Delovski