Phoenix out to turn Porirua into fortress

Phoenix’s Annalie Longo celebrates after scoring a goal during A League Women – Wellington Phoenix v Brisbane Roar at Sky Stadium, Wellington, New Zealand Saturday 4 November 2023 Photo copyright: Masanori Udagawa /
Photo: Masanori Udagawa

The Wellington Phoenix hope Porirua Park will be their “little fortress” during the women’s A-League season.

The Phoenix will play their first game in their new second home on Sunday, when they host last season’s final against Western United.

They have five more home games of this campaign at Porirua Park and head coach Paul Temple is looking forward to the change of scenery.

“We had a couple of seasons with the men’s reserve there at Porirua Park and it was always excellent,” Temple said.

“The pitch is nice, it’s been renovated since the World Cup…so it should be a good surface.

“But I’m really looking forward to the tighter crowd and the stand being close. Hopefully if we can get 2000 people there, pack out the big stand and get an atmosphere around the pitch then hopefully it will be a little boiler for us, a little fort.

“It’s going to be really cool to play there and I’m excited about the atmosphere it can create. I hope the fans feel the same and can make some noise and help us.”

After the first win in Perth, Western United bounced back with a win over Melbourne Victory in round two before drawing with Melbourne City last weekend.

“They are one of the best teams in the competition based on making the final in their first season,” Temple said.

“We have to be at our best to get points against a team like Western United.

“I think we are very aware of what they will bring. They are strong, physical, being good on the counter attack this season and they don’t know when they are beaten, they keep going and going .”

Grace Wisnewski’s season-ending knee injury will force Temple to make at least one change to their starting XI.

Captain Annalie Longo is a choice after marking her long-awaited club debut with a stunning goal but Longo herself is still working her way back to full fitness after suffering a ruptured anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) last year.

“We have to consider that she came from the back of the ACL and got back very quickly for the World Cup, and although she was able to play she didn’t have long minutes so we will have to be careful about her back to 90 minutes,” Temple said.

“The best thing for her is that we still make sure…we don’t push that process too much, because we want her for the long term.

“I would imagine it’s 45 to an hour that we’ll see and then we’ll continue to build from there.”

Canadian goalkeeper Rylee Foster is also a chance to return to the XI after missing last week’s game against the Brisbane Roar with a strained Achilles.

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