Soccer: Parramatta Stadium proves unhappy hunting ground

By Terry Maddaford

Mark Bridge of the Wanderers competes for the ball against Ben Sigmund of the Phoenix.  Photo / Getty Images
Mark Bridge of the Wanderers competes for the ball against Ben Sigmund of the Phoenix. Photo / Getty Images

Parramatta Stadium was no happy hunting ground for New Zealand sporting teams as the Warriors and Wellington Phoenix slumped to losses at the West Sydney ground.

And, that stadium, one of many to serve more than one master, does not fill Western Sydney Wanderers coach Tony Popovic with a lot of confidence heading into the business end of the A-League.

After his team had seen off the Phoenix 2-1 on the back of Shinji Ono and Mark Bridge penalties on Sunday, Popovic said his players were not confident on the uneven surface.

The league newcomers, just five points from claiming the Premiers Plate as top dogs in the regular season, have just one regular season game, with Sydney FC on March 23, at the over-worked stadium.

While Wanderers have now won a record nine-straight, the Phoenix, now out of the play-off race, can look back with some pride in three games with the Wanderers this season.

They beat the Sydneysiders 1-0 at home in round nine, lost 2-0 at the same ground in round 16 and fought hard before succumbing 2-1 on Sunday.

After setting the pace for much of the season, Graham Arnold's Mariners have slumped to successive losses and their minor premiership hopes are all but gone.

The only bright spot for the Phoenix is Jeremy Brockie's continued goal-grabbing heroics which now have him sharing top spot in the Golden Boot with the Mariners' Daniel McBreen with 15.

The Phoenix now face their second trek to Perth for Sunday's late game. The Phoenix end their season at home to Melbourne Victory on March 31. This week's match of the round will be the Sydney FC-Melbourne Victory clash at Allianz Stadium.

- NZ Herald

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