27 Jan 2019

Are the Phoenix a better away team?

12:29 pm on 27 January 2019

Coach Mark Rudan has described Wellington Phoenix as the castaways of the A-League, such is their travel-heavy schedule over the next seven weeks.

Phoenix head coach Mark Rudan.


The resolute 1-0 win over Melbourne City on Saturday was the last game in front of their home fans in Wellington for 51 days, until Rudan's men host Western Sydney Wanderers on March 17.

Two of their next six games are "home" fixtures but they will play in Auckland against Melbourne Victory and in Campbelltown against Sydney FC, where the Kiwi club hopes to attract crowds larger than the average 7500 in Wellington this season.

A tongue-in-cheek Rudan said the players were embracing their looming travels, comparing the time away from home to the fate endured by shipwrecked actor Tom Hanks in the movie Castaway.

"Fifty-one days? Maybe we'll come back with full-length beards and a volleyball with a smiley face on it," he said.

"It's not something that I'll really dwell on.

"They like to be together and we have a good time when we're away from home."

The Phoenix are fifth in the A-League and ensconced in the top six, seemingly destined for the finals.

Phoenix player David Williams celebrates his goal.


They'll be without Andrew Durante for Saturday's trip to leaders Perth Glory after the skipper picked up a fifth yellow card for the season.

However, a suggestion it will be a difficult fixture was met frostily by Rudan, who points out his team have now picked up points against every team above them this season.

"People keep questioning us. What about the games coming up?" he said.

"Keep throwing those questions our way because these boys will keep rising to the challenge."

David Williams scored the winner against Melbourne City, giving him five for the season.

Although the standout Phoenix performer was goalkeeper Filip Kurto, who could have slept through the first half but pulled off a succession of quality saves after the break.

Rudan said the Phoenix team didn't react well to City's pressing and will need to improve their composure.

"We weren't doing the things that made us successful," he said.

"We need to reflect on that second-half performance because I wasn't overjoyed with it."