Phoenix hit road running
Away form has always been a problem for Wellington Phoenix and their ability to earn points on the road will be tested in the next month.
After an unbeaten start to the season, four of the Phoenix's next five A-League matches are in Australia, starting with Adelaide United on Saturday.
They then play Victory in Melbourne, host Central Coast Mariners in Wellington before returning across the Tasman for matches against Newcastle Jets and Perth Glory.
Last season's 15 points from four wins, three draws and six defeats away from home was the best by the Phoenix since they joined the competition in the 2007/08 season.
Under new owners, the Welnix consortium, they were, at times, able to stay in Australia between fixtures – something that will continue this campaign. The first stopover will take place between the Jets and Glory game.
"I kind of thought we got it pretty good last year," said coach Ricki Herbert of the away planning.
"We got a hell of a lot more points than what we did in previous seasons. But you're always trying to refine that.
"We need to be better, absolutely need to be better," he added of the team's away form.
"If we can improve that by 10 or 15 percent then your position on the table is sitting a little higher than what we have been."
Hindmarsh Stadium has not been a good venue for the Phoenix over the years. The crucial 2-1 win there in the latter stages of last season's regular rounds was just Wellington's second win in Adelaide in eight visits.
But captain Andrew Durante, who will return to central defence after missing the 1-1 draw with Brisbane Roar due to illness, believed the players now have confidence in themselves, and the talent, to beat any team at any venue.
"Probably in previous seasons we'd go there (to Australia) with a mindset of if we can get a point out of it, it would be great," he said.
"But I think this year we really have the mindset that we can beat them, no matter where we have to go.
"That's a real positive that we've instilled into this squad this year.
"Sometimes the game unfolds where you walk away and think 'yeah, we'll take the draw'.
"But this year it's three points and if we get a draw we'll probably be a little bit disappointed. Our mindset is definitely 'let's get three points'."
For all the confidence he has in his team's abilities, Durante concedes taking on the table-toppers on their home patch will not be easy.
"Our track record is not very good there and it's going to be a tough game," he said.
"They are a good team. They are very well organised.
"I'm not sure who they'll play up front. Obviously (Bruce) Djite and (Serginho) van Dijk haven't been used in the last game so we'll see what he (coach John Kosmina) throws at us."
But Durante believed if the Phoenix could replicate the opening 25 minutes of the game against the Roar and maintain it for the full 90 against the Reds they would put themselves in a good position to win.
"That was the benchmark of how we need to approach all games, not just at home," the skipper said.
"Even away from home I think we can have that positive attitude and really put teams under pressure.
"It looks like everyone wants to really play out from the back and not everyone can do it all the time.
"It's a great opportunity for us as a team to try and get our goals and press them quite high.
"We'll do some tactical work when we're in Adelaide and see what Ricki has. But I'm sure we're not just going to sit back and let them come at us."