What’s up with Wellington’s defence?

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No team outside the top for has conceded fewer goals than Wellington Phoenix so far this season.

An impressive statistic, though no doubt one that is heavily benefited by the undervalued heroics of Glen Moss. Without the form of Moss in goal, there would be at least another five added to the tally, showcasing what would be the leakiest defence in the league.

Breaking down the Phoenix backline there is a lot to be desired there.

Centrally, Marco Rossi looks an astute acquisition, his composure on the ball and clear positioning put him among the A-league’s best defenders.

Similarly, Andrew Durante boasts a wealth of experience and though he lacks a turn of pace, he still regularly showcases why he is so highly thought of across the channel.

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Adam Parkhouse has deputised on the left side for much of the season. His qualities are clear going forward and to his credit he has improved in the role, though he remains somewhat of a target for opposition wingers.

Similarly, Jacob Tratt has been targeted in the right full back position. Tratt has taken to life quickly in the A-League becoming a crowd favourite for his strong tackling ability.

Truth be told it is not the worst defensive line-up the league has to offer, so why are we seeing such a consistent foray of chances for opposition sides?

It is in between these groups of players where the Phoenix have struggled to maintain discipline.

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Positionally, Tratt and Parkhouse have been found far too wide and often too high when in possession.

Space in between the centrebacks and fullbacks exposes the lack of speed in the heart of the Wellington defence. Last night’s draw against Newcastle highlighted this issue. Andrew Nabbout wreaked havoc on the left hand side as Tratt struggled to contain the pacey wide man.

His goal in the 62nd minute saw him with the time and space to drive at Durante, and though a rare lapse in concentration from the defender saw him beaten all ends up, it’s the sort of opportunity that has come far too often.

Possessing the fitness to run the line all game, fullbacks Parkhouse and Tratt need to remain tighter to their partners centrally. Their innate want to push forward is seriously hindering their sides defensive qualities.

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Tom Doyle’s return to fitness could not have come sooner, the more defensive minded player should somewhat sure up the left hand side.

It is an issue that has plagued the Phoenix all season and is something that needs to be addressed. With a finals football fight looking on the cards, their season depends on it.

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