Dylan Holmes believes Adelaide United cannot afford to take newcomers Wellington Phoenix lightly when the pair meet for the first time on Friday night.
Still searching for its maiden win of the Liberty A-League 2021/22 season, but improving each week, Wellington poses as a danger game and Holmes warned against complacency.
The ‘Nix surrendered a two-goal lead against Brisbane Roar last weekend, a snapshot of what the competition’s newest side is capable of.
Holmes is anticipating nothing short of a difficult contest.
“I think Wellington is going to be a really tough game on Friday night,” Holmes said.
“It’s obviously their first year in the competition, but I think watching them every week, you can tell week by week they’re improving and getting more confidence, and getting that experience that they didn’t have coming into the season.
“To be honest, their performance against Brisbane probably deserved a result and they were really unlucky not to get one.
“But we have to be really switched on and at our best to get the three points.”
The Reds suffered its first home defeat of the season after a 1-0 loss to Melbourne City last time out, meaning the importance of returning to the winner’s circle is all the more crucial after registering three victories and as many losses after six matches.
The central midfielder essentially admitted Friday’s clash at Coopers Stadium is a must win.
“These are the games we have to win,” she added.
“If we’re serious about making finals this year, these games are non-negotiables.
“We need to beat teams that are around us in that mid-table or below us.
“There’s a lot on the line for us this Friday.”
The most frustrating aspect about the setback against City was the team’s inability to be clinical and lack of cutting edge in the final third, a real contrast from United’s previous two matches where they scored a combined seven goals.
Indeed, United had not been held scoreless until last weekend.
“I think in the previous few games, we’ve actually been pretty clinical in front of goal,” she said.
“The two games leading into the Melbourne City game we scored seven goals in two games, so I think that clinical edge in the final third we were lacking a little bit on Saturday because we did have a few pretty good chances that in the previous couple of weeks we might have put away.
“So I think that’s something we need to address this week and try and sharpen up for Wellington on Friday.”
The 24-year-old stated while it was disappointing not to have made the Matildas’ AFC Women’s Asian Cup India 2022™ squad the benefits may prove twofold.
It will help with the team’s continuity and in turn boost its top-four aspirations for the remainder of the campaign, as well as playing a consistent run of games and performing well, will increase her chances of returning to the national team set-up.
Holmes’ solitary Matildas cap occurred against the Netherlands in April 2021.
“I think for me coming back from Sweden, I’m obviously disappointed not to have made that squad,” she said.
“But at the same time, I think there are a lot of positives on an individual level for me to be back in Adelaide and playing week in, week out and playing in a team that I’m really familiar with and a coach who I think really trusts me.
“For me obviously disappointed, but I think it’ll be good for me in the long run to get this run of games with Adelaide and hopefully we can push for finals with this consistent squad that we’ll have for the rest of the season.”
Holmes added that she also is excited to be back at Coopers Stadium for the second consecutive game and the third time already this year.
“I love playing at Coopers (Stadium),” said Holmes, who has played a total of 44 matches and scored four goals for the Reds.
“I truly believe it’s the best football stadium in the country.
“So the fact this will be our third game there already this season is really exciting and hopefully in the future we’ll get plenty more opportunities to play at Coopers (Stadium), because it’s an amazing pitch to play on and the atmosphere is really great.
“I think we’re all really grateful this year we’ve had so many games there and I love it.”