Above: Adelaide United head coach Adrian Stenta is proud of his team’s current form but know they face a tough challenge against Wellington Phoenix tomorrow. Photo supplied to Impetus by: Adelaide United.
Round 12 of the A-League Women gets underway tomorrow with the two teams who produced last weekend’s most eyecatching results going head to head. Impetus’ Ben Gilby heard from both head coaches, Adrian Stenta of Adelaide United and Wellington Phoenix’s Gemma Lewis (16/2/22).
Adelaide United head coach Adrian Stenta was unsurprisingly in a positive mood ahead of his side’s trip to Wollongong to face Wellington Phoenix tomorrow.
He first gave his assessment of his team’s 8-2 win at Brisbane Roar last weekend. “It was a really pleasing response to what was a disappointing performance on the Thursday (when Adelaide lost 1-0 to Perth Glory). It was great to score multiple goals. If I’m being honest, I’d rather we didn’t concede two, but it was great to see the girls follow through on what we wanted to execute.”
Whilst Fiona Worts claimed the headlines in that match for scoring five goals, Stenta wanted to recognize her all-round efforts for the team.
“She’s worked really hard for us as a team this year. She’s been involved in a lot of team goals and hadn’t quite had the rewards herself up until the weekend. Credit needs to also go to the playing group around her with some fantastic balls from Dylan (Holmes) and Chelsie (Dawber) too.”
Turning attention to Wellington Phoenix, Adelaide’s head coach knows that his team are going to face a serious challenge. “It is going to be tough. They made life really difficult for us when we played them over here. They’ll be really buoyed by that first win and now have an opportunity to get off the bottom of the table.
“I’ve been so impressed by what I’ve seen from Wellington this season, not just on the pitch and tactically, but they have a good mentality.”
Adelaide United have emphasized their desire to go one better than last season and make Finals this time round, and that is firmly in Stenta’s thoughts: “This group has a real want and desire to achieve something this year. We haven’t put any limits on ourselves and we’re mentally strong.
“The girls really want to make the most of this opportunity. We know what we need to do to be at our best, we just need to make sure we unlock that on a weekly basis.”
Finally, Adelaide United’s head coach revealed that he is likely to be without Paige Hayward due to scans on an injury and potentially Emily Condon who is nursing a leg issue.
Wellington Phoenix head coach Gemma Lewis opened her media conference by speaking of her frustration at not getting a reply to daily contact attempts with Football Australia with regard to getting permission to bring in an emergency goalkeeper.
With Lily Alfeld away on international duty at the SheBelieves Cup, Phoenix will field Brianna Edwards in goal, but league rules state that a second keeper must be named on the bench.
As the Phoenix have had to response to their request to bring in another goalkeeper, they will have to name an outfield player as sub goalkeeper.
Edwards will make her first start against Adelaide United tomorrow, and Lewis outlined how the 19-year-old is feeling about her debut. “She’s a mix of nerves and excitement. Sometimes she seems really nervous and sometimes she’s just raring to go. I think it’s a positive thing. I think it’s a good mix.
“She really cares. She’s come in and doing the extra work with us and going through footage. She’s making sure she knows everything that she needs to be doing which shows her added professionalism and the fact that she really wants to do well for this team. I’m really excited for her. I’m really excited to see how she goes.
Lewis revealed her players’ response to being asked after their maiden win against Canberra United last week if they were satisfied with one win in their maiden season.
“Everyone was like ‘nah’. They’re not just happy with that one win. They’re hungry for more. We feel like these next three games there are definitely opportunities. I’m not going to sit here and say we’ll get all three wins…but I think we can definitely get one or two.
“Based on how we’ve been playing I don’t think we’d be happy coming away from the season with just a win, which is funny because if you asked me that before the start of the season I’d probably be extremely, extremely happy. We’re trying to hold ourselves to higher standards now.”
The Phoenix also now have the added incentive of trying to avoid the wooden spoon. “Okay we’ve got our first win but now actually as a team, they want to get off the bottom of the table and they feel like it’s achievable,” Lewis said.
“I think we’ve proved we’re not pushovers for the whole season and…now we’re not going to be the definite team to come last.”
However, tomorrow’s opponents Adelaide United come into the game after putting in one of the performances of the season having demolished Brisbane Roar 8-2 on Sunday, with Fiona Worts scoring five goals.
“This game will be really interesting. Two teams that are coming off a high and I’m really hoping we’ll see both teams at a really good standard. I think that it’ll be an exciting game to watch if Adelaide come out really strong and if we come out really strong in the things that we are known for then I think it will really be a battle. It’s definitely a game that we’re targeting. We feel like it’s a good match-up.”
The Phoenix will have a new captain on Thursday night, with vice-captain Kate Taylor out with a back injury in addition to regular captain Lily Alfeld’s international responsibilities.
“The game’s come around a bit too soon for Kate, which is a really disappointing for one for us,” Lewis said. She hasn’t trained all week. We probably could get her on the field, but we feel like it’s too much of a risk on this tight turnaround. This is an 18-year-old girl and this is her back. We definitely have to err on the side of caution before we start taking crazy measures with huge painkillers or any local anaesthetics.”
On a positive note forward Kelli Brown is a possibility of returning against Adelaide, after missing the team’s past five matches with concussion.
“If she gets through today then technically she would be cleared to play. But we just want to really, really make sure with her so we’re definitely leaving it till very much last minute.
“She trained this morning and a lot of this morning she was doing headers and set plays and things like that so we just want to make sure she gets through the day symptom free.”
Defender Cushla Rue is a chance of making her debut after being cleared to return from an ankle injury which has side-lined her for three matches.