Jets brace for trans-Tasman warfare

COACH Gary van Egmond has warned the Jets to be ready for trans-Tasman warfare as the besieged Wellington Phoenix look to restore the faith of a nation.

Wellington are coming off a club-worst 7-1 hammering at the hands of an Alessandro Del Piero-led Sydney FC.

The defeat was the Nix's fourth straight and leaves them propping up the table.

The form slump has coincided with a change in playing style, sparking a backlash from the club's supporters.

"You have a case where they have just come off a pretty heavy defeat from Sydney and they are going to be looking for a response to answer the people of New Zealand," van Egmond said.

"We are a one-team town. They are a one-team country.

"Their team represents the whole of New Zealand. They feel a lot of pride with that.

"We know how strong the New Zealand mentality is.

"Even at the Olympics you see how well they do for a nation of four million.

"We know it is going to be a tough game."

Van Egmond said it was important that the Jets get on the front foot from the outset.

"I think it is imperative for us to score first," the coach said.

"If we score first, it would be hard for them."

The Jets have scored the opening goal six times this season for five wins and one loss.

They enter tomorrow's clash chasing a club-record fourth clean sheet but have to overcome a horrendous record at the Cake Tin.

Their lone win in nine visits was a 1-0 result - Matt Thompson scored the winner from a deflection - in their first meeting in round three of the 2007-08 season.

Since then the Jets have lost eight straight in the New Zealand capital.

In fact, the Phoenix are the Jets' bogey team, winning their past six encounters.

"We know it will be tough strictly from our track record over there, let alone all these other things that have happened recently," van Egmond said.

Of the likely starting line-up, it will be the first trip across the Tasman as a Jet for all but Jobe Wheelhouse, Ryan Griffiths and Taylor Regan.

Though aware of the side’s abysmal record, rookie Connor Chapman said most of the squad did not carry the baggage of previous losses.

‘‘Obviously you have the likes of Jobe and Ryan who have been here a while, but as a unit we are pretty new,’’ Chapman said.

‘‘Most of us don’t have any history over there.

‘‘We have been going pretty well the past few games and go with a bit of confidence.

‘‘You always want to look forward and be positive.’’

Chapman will reunite with Regan, who has recovered from a calf strain and comes in for the suspended Josh Mitchell, in defence.

After leaking 28 goals in 14 games, the Jets have not conceded in more than 5 hours of football.

‘‘It is the unit that gets the clean sheets, not just the defence,’’ Chapman said.

‘‘Everyone’s confidence has lifted, but we know we have to keep it going.

‘‘‘We had a draw last week and dropped a place to sixth.

‘‘It is so close from fifth to last. 

‘‘If you look at Wellington, they have some quality there. It is just that things haven’t been going their way.’’

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