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Phoenix Seek Record-Breaking Result

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
Phoenix Seek Record-Breaking Result

Wellington, Dec 11 NZPA - Wellington Phoenix can claim the A-League record for unbeaten matches at home on Saturday with a win or a draw over Sydney at Palmerston North.

The Wellington-based club shares the record of 14 consecutive matches unbeaten on home turf with none other than Sydney.

But while the Phoenix have made Wellington Stadium their fortress for more than a year, they chart new territory on Saturday when they host Sydney FC at FMG Stadium in Palmerston North.

Phoenix coach Ricki Herbert is excited about the match, which will be the Phoenix's first competition fixture outside Wellington.

"It's very exciting and by all accounts things are bubbling along really well in Palmerston North and there's a lot of buzz about. It goes to show that the game is in great heart in New Zealand and that football is continuing to go from strength to strength," Herbert said.

However, Herbert has had a couple of selection setbacks for the big game, with New Zealand World Cup hero Mark Paston ruled out of the match with a fractured tibia.

The injury will see the in-form goalkeeper out of action for up to six weeks, with Paston due to undergo surgery on Friday.

Compounding the loss of Paston is the suspension of fellow All White Ben Sigmund, who has been ruled out for three weeks after punching Melbourne Victory defender Adrian Leijer in last weekend's 1-1 home draw.

Former Socceroo Jon McKain is likely to return from injury to the Phoenix's starting line-up in place of Sigmund and young keeper Reece Crowther will start in his sixth A-League match. Ironically, Crowther has started in both of the Phoenix's matches against Sydney this season.

Herbert said players on the fringe of the starting team had the chance to step up on Saturday.

"Everyone has trained well and there could be opportunities. Everyone in the squad senses that. If we do go with new players then this could be their chance."

Making the A-League record of unbeaten games at home their own was not playing on the minds of the Phoenix players.

"It's certainly not what is driving us," said Herbert. "We know that if we play well then the result will take care of itself, no matter who takes the field. But if we can get that record, then great."

A win will further enhance the Phoenix's playoff aspirations and they tackle a Sydney which had lost three in a row before hammering North Queensland Fury 4-1 last weekend.

"They bounced back well and it's another example of the swings and roundabouts in this competition," said Herbert.


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