Soccer: Tall task for Phoenix

By Steven Holloway

Manny Muscat. Photo / Getty Images.
Manny Muscat. Photo / Getty Images.

When it comes to tough A-League fixtures, playing away to the Central Coast Mariners would be top of the tricky list.

But that is the tall task the Phoenix face tomorrow as they travel to Bluetongue Stadium in Gosford - a venue at which the league leaders are unbeaten this season.

While three points would be a dream-scenario, Phoenix midfielder Manny Muscat said that even taking a point - and building some momentum from their first win in six matches against Perth last weekend - would suffice.

"Our boys know what a tough ask it is to go to Central Coast, it's one of the toughest fixtures in the A-League, they are a strong team and you always have to earn your points," Muscat said.

"We're looking to build on our win from last week but we have to take it to them. It would be great to get three points but a draw wouldn't be the worst result either."

Wellington have now picked up four points since conceding seven goals to Sydney on that horror night at Alianz Stadium in Round 17.

But despite the improved performances, the Phoenix are still at the wrong end of the table and need to pick up some points against the better teams in the competition.

Central Coast are unbeaten in their past six matches, but with three draws in their last four, are a far cry from the side that had an aura of invincibility about them in earlier rounds.

"Arnie's got his boys well drilled and they're a good side with quality right through the team," Muscat said.

"Last time we played we lost 1-0 and I thought we played quite well and matched up well with them. But they had one chance and they scored from it. If all the boys are playing to their ability we can match any team in the A-league."

The Phoenix will have a re-shuffled back line, with Leo Bertos injured and Muscat likely to fill his position at right back. Left back Ian Hogg is also in contention to hold onto his spot from Tony Lochead, after impressing in his debut last weekend.

"Hoggy played well last week and it was good to see him get 90 minutes under his belt. So every game for Hoggy from now on is going to be about gaining experience in the league and learning the tempo of the game. It will also be important for us to gel as a unit."

The match kicks off tomorrow night at 9pm (NZT)

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