Winless duo battle for Liberty A-League breakthrough

Canberra United and Wellington Phoenix probably had Friday night’s A-League Women’s clash circled on their calendars for some time.

So long as the match isn’t drawn, one zero will go with each side seeking to secure their first win of the season at Viking Park.

After playing finals last season it has been a fall from grace for Canberra, who have four draws and four losses from their eight Liberty A-League outings.

But head coach Vicki Linton said it was not dire straits for her side with Friday’s game a chance to finally get the season trending upwards.

“We’re continually disappointed as a group by things that happen to put us in that situation,” she said.

“Every club has had its challenges this season, they certainly have as well … they’re going to give us a challenge.”

Canberra will be without star goalkeeper Keeley Richards for the rest of the season after she had knee surgery, with Chloe Lincoln to grab the No.1 shirt.

They have signed Cristina Esposito as an injury replacement player.

In their inaugural season, the Phoenix would view their trip to the nation’s capital as their best chance to date of picking up their breakthrough win, but coach Gemma Lewis said that wouldn’t make beating Canberra any easier.

“I don’t want us to fall in that trap of looking at Canberra and being like ‘they haven’t won, there’s an opportunity for us’ and then we go into the game with expectations that maybe it’s going to be a bit easier because it’s not,” she said.

“They’re still going to be expected to win. We’re still huge underdogs, especially in terms of player-for-player match-ups.

“It’s two winless teams so they’re 100 per cent going to be targeting us. We definitely want to push them for a win. I feel like somebody is going to get their first win but it could go either way.”

Midfielder Grace Wisnewski returns to the side after missing last week’s loss to Melbourne Victory due to mental health reasons.

Nix captain Lily Alfeld will play before heading to America for the SheBelieves Cup, where she is representing New Zealand.