Soccer: Phoenix heading back to their bogey location

By Daniel Richardson

The Phoenix have gone to Adelaide 10 times during their A-League existence and have only came back with the chocolates twice. Photo / Getty Images.
The Phoenix have gone to Adelaide 10 times during their A-League existence and have only came back with the chocolates twice. Photo / Getty Images.

Adelaide is a place that just isn't kind to the Wellington Phoenix.

Whether they turn up and receive a barrage from an in-form Adelaide United outfit or cop some of the worst refereeing the A-League has seen this season, Wellington's trips to South Australia so often end in tears.

The Phoenix have gone to Adelaide 10 times during their A-League existence and have only came back with the chocolates twice and their last appearance there in October was particularly controversial.

Despite the Phoenix taking a 1-0 lead through Stein Huysegems, the Wellingtonians went down 3-1 and watched Ben Sigmund receive a late red card after he was adjudged to have fouled Adelaide player Jeronimo Neumann who clearly dived.

Phoenix skipper Andrew Durante delivered an explosive post-match interview where he voiced his displeasure at the standard of officiating in the game and labelled Neumann a cheat.

"We had a few tough decisions against us, I think the first one was offside from what I saw, the second one he's dived - he's a cheat in my book if he's dived and I think the referees were shocking tonight,'' Durante said after the game.

The tensions have simmered since that round four outing that subsequently saw Sigmund serve a one-match ban for his red card - the Phoenix unsuccessfully appealed his suspension - and the defender said the Wellington franchise just wanted to get on and play football.

"We've just got to put it in the past,'' Sigmund said. "It's just one of those things and you move on and both teams want to win and get the three points and that's what we'll be going out to do.''

John Kosmina's second-placed Adelaide side have played an attacking brand of football this season, something the Phoenix would dearly love to replicate as they have come under fire in recent weeks as their style of play is perceived as boring.

Whether the Phoenix's play spins your wheels or not it has led them to hold sixth place on the A-League ladder after 10 rounds so it hasn't been largely unsuccessful but coach Ricki Herbert would love to bank three points this weekend.

The Phoenix will also have to do without forward Jeremy Brockie who is a late scratching due to a hamstring complaint and his replacement remains unclear although Herbert has a few cards he can play.

One of those is the fit-again Dani Sanchez who has overcome a knee complaint and is in line to make his first appearance of the summer.

Wellington looked particularly underwhelming in their 2-1 loss to Sydney FC last weekend and Sigmund, who will play his 100th game for the franchise on Sunday, said the side were fully aware they had to lift their performance this week.

"At the end of the day everyone was probably below par in terms of attitude and effort and that's pretty easy to fix so I think you've got to look at yourself and I think that's what we've done. Training this week was 10 times better and everyone's put themselves about so hopefully come Sunday you'll see a different team on the pitch than last week.''

As for the woeful record in South Australia, Sigmund said he didn't like to study the history books.

"You tackle every game as it comes. You don't sort of think too much about what's happened in the past but Adelaide's a tough place to go, we know that. But as I say, we are so disappointed in ourselves that we are going to go over there and certainly give it everything.''

- APNZ

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