Soccer: Phoenix hoping to catch Reds on the rebound

By Terry Maddaford

Rumblings of discontent in Adelaide camp could play into Herbert's hands in encounter at Hindmarsh

Paul Ifill will be the key to providing width for the Phoenix in Adelaide. Photo / APN
Paul Ifill will be the key to providing width for the Phoenix in Adelaide. Photo / APN

Coach Ricki Herbert will be looking to catch Adelaide United on the rebound when they square off with the Wellington Phoenix tonight.

After a winning start to the season and atop the Hyundai A-League points table after a two-from-two start and still there despite losing for the first time last week, United coach John Kosmina is obviously under some pressure to regain his winnings ways.

All, apparently, is not well in the Reds camp.

Stars of seasons gone by, Sergio Van Dijk and Bruce Djite, have rarely been sighted, with Van Dijk not used at all and Djite starting twice but being subbed off in the first two games and left out of the third against the Melbourne Victory.

Both, along with Fabian Barbiero, have been included in Kosmina's 18-man squad which will have to be trimmed to 15 before kick-off.

Rumblings of possible moves have apparently caused the unease at the club and led Kosmina to ban media from Thursday's training session.

There could be other changes, with Iain Fyfe pressing Nigel Boogard - his error which led to the winning goal from Marco Rojas later described by Kosmina as comical - for a place in the Adelaide defence.

In another possible change, Argentine Marcello Carrusa - who has played off the bench in all three games - could start in the midfield in place of Cam Watson.

Herbert, who took his team over to Adelaide on Thursday, is unlikely to go far from what now appears his settled starting line-up when all players are available.

Mark Paston will be in goal, Leo Bertos, Ben Sigmund, captain Andrew Durante and Tony Lochhead will play at the back, Manny Muscat and Alex Smith in central midfield with Paul Ifill and Louis Fenton providing the width for Jeremy Brockie and Stein Huysegems up front.

And, even with that attacking formation to start, he will have good cover on the bench with Benjamin Totori, Vince Lia and either Tyler Boyd or Ricardo Clarke ready to maintain the momentum.

There is no doubt the rigours of the All Whites campaign (the return trip to Tahiti and two games in four days) and Totori's involvement with the Solomon Islands, took the edge from the seven players involved against a full-strength Brisbane last Sunday. Taking a point from the defending champions was just reward for their resilience and determination.

Even when forced to defend for long periods in the second half as the Roar went in search of the winner, the Phoenix battled well. The only criticism of the Phoenix effort was their failure to score more than that one well-taken Huysegems goal in the opening 20 minutes in which they were dominant.

That point, against a team they had beaten only twice in 18 previous encounters, is the incentive to maintain the momentum in the South Australian capital tonight.

As the only unbeaten team three weeks into the season, the Phoenix have an added incentive to again get a result which could, depending on other results, take them to the top of the table.

Newcastle Jets, sharing top spot with Adelaide and Perth Glory, had a tough home game with the Victory last night while Perth, the third team on six points, are away to Sydney FC in tomorrow's feature game.

A-League

Adelaide United v Wellington Phoenix
Hindmarsh Stadium
Today 7.30pm (live SS2)
Referee: Jarred Gillett

- NZ Herald

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