Wandering Phoenix head for latest ALM home

Isuzu UTE A-League ramblers Wellington Phoenix will play their fourth straight ‘home’ game at a different venue on Wednesday when they welcome Brisbane Roar to Leichhardt Oval.

Spending a second season based in New South Wales due to COVID-19 restrictions, the Phoenix have played home fixtures at Campbelltown Stadium, Wollongong’s WIN Stadium and Netstrata Jubilee Stadium already this month.

Wednesday’s game is the first of two this week at Leichhardt Oval with Sydney FC the visitors on Saturday.

Despite their itinerant nature, the Phoenix have climbed to seventh in the standings and back in the finals hunt thanks to a four-game unbeaten run.

“Venues don’t matter at the moment,” Phoenix head coach Ufuk Talay said.

“We’re just trying to get venues that are closer to where we’re staying and do less travelling in New South Wales at the moment.

“The venue is a venue. As long as the pitch is nice and it’s playable, I think the boys will be happy.”

A three-game winning run was halted by teenager Bernardo’s dramatic injury-time equaliser for Adelaide United in a 1-1 draw against the Reds last weekend.

Talay said bouncing back from the disappointment of that late equaliser is a challenge for his group as they take on a Brisbane team which put in a confident display to beat Macarthur FC 3-1 last Sunday.

“We all know and I think the group knows we dropped two points in that game, that we should have won,” he said.

“It’s obviously another learning curve for these young players.

“Against Brisbane, it’s not going to be an easy game, they’ll be on a high after the good result against Macarthur … we’re not going to underestimate them.”

Talay has made just one change to his starting XI in the past three games, with English defender Sam Wootton replacing youngster Finn Surman at the back for the past two fixtures.

English striker Gary Hooper came off the bench against Adelaide to mark his return from a hamstring injury but Talay suggested the veteran was unlikely to unseat current first-choice strike pairing Jaushua Sotirio and David Ball.

Brisbane head to Sydney having not lost to Wellington in their past four matches against the Phoenix and chasing a first win on the road this season.