Expect goals when Wellington Phoenix host the Mariners, but the hosts should prevail.
Phoenix lost 3-1 at City on Monday and in truth it could have been worse as City were 3-0 up after 50 minutes before taking their best players off and easing up somewhat. The Mariners, on the other hand were more competitive as despite being outplayed by the Wanderers they were only beaten with two minutes to go after skipper Nick Montgomery was sent off 10 minutes earlier. As a result, the Phoenix have dropped down to 8th, while the Mariners are now seven points adrift at the bottom of the league.
Phoenix have now lost five of their last seven, but they’ve had a gruelling schedule as all five of these defeats came in away games and they’ll be grateful to return to New Zealand where they have a much better record. This season they’re W3-D2-L1 at the Wellington Regional Stadium, with that sole defeat coming against the Jets in the opening game of the season as they’ve beaten Victory and Brisbane, while managing a draw against Sydney. Their record at home to bottom-three sides since the start of last season is an impressive W4-D2-L1, though they trailed at half-time in three of these games but won the second half in five.
The Mariners have been poor both at home and away this season, conceding 37 goals in their 16 games so far. They have however managed to find the net in 14, the exceptions being at home against top-three sides the Wanderers and Roar. They’ve lost six of their seven road games, but only trailed at half-time in three, against top-half sides Sydney, Victory and Brisbane. Their record at sides between 4th and 7th since the start of last season is W0-D2-L7, though they managed to score in all of these matches. They’re not helped by the fact that along with their skipper Montgomery, main striker O’Donovan and centre-back Ascroft are also suspended for this game.
Wellington look a very backable price at 1.86 in this one, while Draw/Wellington also makes appeal at 5.1 since the Mariners have only trailed at half-time in eight of 21 on the road since the start of last term, despite not winning in this time. Both teams have found the net in seven of the eight meetings between these sides since 2013/14 and given the Mariners have lost but scored in 11 of their last 12 away games, that looks the strongest bet in this one.