13 Jan 2018

Nix wary of changeable Wanderers

11:21 am on 13 January 2018

Wellington will face something of an unknown foe in tonight's A-League clash with Western Sydney, although there's one familiar face they'll watch closely.

Phoenix captain Andrew Durante, right, walks with head coach Darije Kalezic

Phoenix captain Andrew Durante, right, walks with head coach Darije Kalezic Photo: Photosport

Phoenix coach Darije Kalezic says the Wanderers, who are eight points and four places clear of 10th-placed Wellington, are proving hard to read.

"They've changed the team in the last weeks, also they have some suspensions and a new signing Marcelo Carrusca from Melbourne City, so it will be for us difficult to know exactly who's going to play," Kalezic said on Friday.

The Wanderers drew 1-1 on Wednesday with Adelaide United, and have two wins and a draw from their past three matches, but will be without suspended captain Robbie Cornthwaite and midfielder Chris Herd.

One player who's certain to feature is creative midfielder Roly Bonevacia, who had spent three seasons at the Phoenix, scoring 14 goals before moving this season to Western Sydney.

Kalezic says the 26-year-old Dutchman plays a key role for the Wanderers.

"He has an important role in the midfield, a player who is really creative and who likes to play forward, and who can also make goals from the second line.

"He's a player we have to take care about, for sure."

Wellington skipper Andrew Durante opted for a tongue-in-cheek approach when questioned about the best way to keep Bonevacia in check.

"He doesn't like being kicked, so we'll make sure we kick him a bit, keep him on the ground a bit," Durante said.

"It's the first time we've come up against him so we're looking forward to it. I know he misses the place; I chat to him often; he really enjoyed his time here.

"It'll be interesting."

Durante said his team were still fizzing after beating Melbourne Victory 2-1 on Wednesday for just their second win of the season.

The return of strike weapon Nathan Burns and introduction of Serbian attacking midfielder Matija Ljujic had provided just the tonic Wellington needed.

"Burnsy, I thought, was exceptional. He had an outstanding game," Durante said.

"Something we'd lacked was just that directness and ability to take shots, left foot and right foot. He brought a new dimension to our game that was really positive.

"Matija looked really comfortable straight away. He was in good pockets. You could tell he had a really good football brain."


.. The Wanderers have scored just one goal after the 60-minute mark this season. No other team has scored less than five goals in that period

.. After a 2-1 win against Victory, Wellington will look for back-to-back wins at home for the first time since January 2017

.. Western Sydney have lost just one of their past seven games against Wellington, scoring two or more goals each time.