Phoenix defence in spotlight again after lacking performance

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The Wellington Phoenix defence will be heavily in the spotlight after conceding eight goals from their opening two games of the A-League Women campaign.

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The Nix put on a decent first half showing before collapsing in the second, conceding three quick goals with head coach Natalie Lawrence having no answers to Western United’s American attackers. 

“It’s hard because of the experience they have,” Lawrence said.

“Jess McDonald has won a World Cup. I have no idea how many other players in the league have won a World Cup.”

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McDonald scored the opening goal of the game while fellow American Hannah Keane netted twice as Western United ripped the Phoenix apart 4-1.

McDonald has represented the USWNT on 19 occasions, netting four goals in the process.

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Keane, meanwhile, has not represented her country, but has a plethora of experience at eight different clubs.

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Despite these two having a threat on the game, Lawrence believes set pieces were the main reason for her sides back-to-back defeats. 

“A couple of set-pieces is quite easy fixes and right now we are getting punished by top players that are very experienced,” she said. 

Lawrence blames a lack of experience for her sides poor start, but having conceded the most goals in the league after two rounds, there is cause for concern.

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The backline led by stand-in captain Kate Taylor and Mackenzie Barry have struggled to keep teams out so far this year. 

From last weeks same result against Melbourne City to this weeks game, the backline needs some serious improvement. 

With the Phoenix mainly signing attacking players for this season, it’s going to come back to haunt Lawrence, especially if her side keep up their current defensive rate. 

Despite there still being 15 games remaining in the ALW season, a slow start can hurt a team’s chances of playing finals football – something the Nix will want to improve upon sooner rather than later.

Featured image credit: Photomac 

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Nick Jensen
Nick Jensen
Journalism Student at Massey University Wellington and a passionate Football Fan, covering the Wellington Phoenix Men and Women for the 2022/23 season.

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