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No holding back, say Wellington Phoenix

Saturday, February 01, 2014

AUCKLAND - The Wellington Phoenix begin a pivotal phase of their come-from-behind bid to make the A-League play-offs when they host in-form Adelaide United in Auckland.

The Reds are one of three teams from the bottom half of the table that the Phoenix, themselves back in ninth spot, will face in consecutive weekends, making the fixtures effective six-pointers.

But Phoenix coach Ernie Merrick has ruled out any retreat from his side's attacking intent because of the stakes involved at Eden Park tonight, and then against Newcastle and Melbourne Heart.

"We want to win the next three games," he said.

"We're not playing for draws. It doesn't matter about the form of the other side."

He cited Wellington's approach in their 2-1 defeat to leaders Brisbane in the heat and humidity at Suncorp Stadium last Friday night, when they tried to build on a 1-0 lead and then chase the winner after the Roar equalised.

Adelaide will go in with the confidence of an unbeaten seven-match run that has lifted them to sixth on the table.

Three of the Reds' four wins during their streak have been against the league's top three sides, although they needed a late Ryan Griffiths goal to snatch a 2-2 draw with the bottom-placed Heart last weekend.

They are sitting just four points behind Adelaide, having picked up 13 points from their five matches before the trip to Brisbane.

In what will be the first meeting of the season between the clubs, Merrick will have Costa Rican pair Carlos Hernandez and Kenny Cunningham back from international duty.

However, Belgian striker Stein Huysegems, the league's top marksman with eight goals, might need to pass a match-day fitness test on a calf problem, although the player himself is confident of taking the pitch.

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