Preview: Tackling the Phoenix on the road

Crunch clash, do or die, all or nothing – there has been plenty of chat around the Jets Round 23 clash with the Phoenix, but for Ernie Merrick the formula is simple.

“We’ve just got to win and that’s what we intend to do, and we’ve got the players to do it,” Merrick said.

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Nothing but a win will suffice this weekend, if the Jets are to continue their pursuit of sixth-placed Adelaide United.

The Phoenix, along with Melbourne City stand as two sides that the Jets could still topple to secure a place in the six, but both sit further afield than the faltering Reds.

Jair Wellington Phoenix
Jair in action on debut in Round 1

Wellington has the opportunity to all but secure their place in the six, with a home final not out of the question for Mark Rudan’s side.

With plenty on the line, we can expect a fiery encounter at Westpac Stadium.

That was certainly the case last time these side’s met in February, where they played out an entertaining, end-to-end 1-1 draw at McDonald Jones Stadium.

Glen Moss was the hero on that occasion, stopping a Roy Krishna penalty at the death.

Despite their loss to the Mariners in their last start, Merrick cited his side’s recent form, and their ability to bounce back a big factor in the fixture at Westpac Stadium.

“That was the first loss in six games, I think they’ve been pretty good at bouncing back but they really need to now.”

“It’s about efficiency, about scoring goals and there’s no second chances anymore. If we lose another game, I think we would really struggle.

“I think Wellington have done well, pulled away a couple of extra points… Adelaide are closer to us, but it’s really about winning at least three of the remaining five, maybe only losing one and a draw, and seeing how things fall.”

Joe Champness, Ivan Vujica and Johnny Koutroumbis all return from national duty, while Ben Kantarovski has been confirmed fit to play.

Joey Champness Australia
Champness saw plenty of game time for the Olyroos

It will give the experienced Scotsman plenty to consider in the middle of the park with Petratos, Ugarkovic, Ridenton, Cowburn and Thurgate also in the squad.

The Phoenix will be without leading man, Roy Krishna due to suspension, while they welcome back Sapreet Singh and Tom Doyle.

The match kicks off at 5.35pm (AEDT) live on Fox Sports 505 and the My Football App.