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Phoenix steel for Victory challenge

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 16/01/2017 Cathy Walshe

Wellington Phoenix face a season-defining game against Melbourne Victory in Tuesday's A-League catch-up match, co-coach Chris Greenacre believes.

Three days after downing Central Coast Mariners 1-0 at Westpac Stadium, Wellington host the second-placed Victory in a game rescheduled following the magnitude 7.8 Kaikoura earthquake in mid-November.

The Phoenix then go on to host Brisbane Roar on Saturday, completing three games in eight days, and eyeing the chance to move up the ladder from their current seventh spot.

"This could be a season-defining moment," Greenacre said on Monday.

"If we can get results, and this is hypothetical, we're back in the top four, and the season's turned on its head.

"That's not looking forward too early, that's the reality of having a game in hand."

However, Greenacre is under no illusions as to the task Wellington face.

Victory are on a six-game winning streak, five points astray of league leaders Sydney FC, and boast a daunting array of firepower.

Besart Berisha, who has 12 goals for the season and 93 in a spectacular six-season A-League career, and All Whites striker Marco Rojas, with 10 goals this season, have proven a lethal combination.

"Victory are on fire this year," Greenacre admitted.

"It's important we really take the game to them - we can't sit back and let Victory dictate play and dictate the speed of the game."

That was exactly what happened last time the two teams met - in an October 31 horror showing, Berisha scored a hat-trick and Rojas a brace as Wellington were overwhelmed 6-1 at Etihad Stadium.

Greenacre says there's no hiding from that result, which serves as prime motivation for a better showing on Tuesday.

"We weren't good enough that night, we can't make excuses.

"We were poor throughout the team - we didn't attack well, we didn't defend well, we didn't keep the ball very well," he said.

"If we need motivating for this game, then we've got real problems."


* Phoenix striker Shane Smeltz has 89 career A-League goals, just four behind the competition's greatest-ever scorer, Melbourne Victory's Besart Berisha

* Victory's 3-2 defeat of Brisbane Roar on Friday was their sixth consecutive win

* Melbourne Victory have won five of the last seven clashes between the two sides, including a 6-1 demolition in October.

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