Football: Wellington Phoenix staying positive despite A-League losing run, target FFA Cup rebound victory

Wellington Phoenix aren't letting their heads drop despite a four-game losing run, defender Tim Payne says, as the club eyes a place in the semi-finals of the FFA Cup.

After Saturday's 4-0 A-League defeat to Adelaide United, Ufuk Talay's Phoenix haven't tasted league success since a 2-1 victory over Central Coast Mariners all the way back at the end of November.

What's more, Saturday's 4-0 defeat to Adelaide is the joint-worst losing margin for the Phoenix under Talay, also going down by the same scoreline against Newcastle Jets in December.

The Kiwi side are currently 11th on the A-League ladder, with four points and one win from six games played. Only Brisbane Roar boast a worse record this season, albeit with two games in hand.

But despite the losses, and the manners in which they came, defender Payne says that the team are working to end their slump of poor form, starting on Wednesday night in the FFA Cup.

"It's obviously disappointing," he says. "I think everyone needs to, individually and collectively, look ourselves in the mirror and make some changes. Those changes will come throughout the week.

"We'll work on some things and hopefully it'll put us in good stead for the weekend.

"I guess the one benefit from the past couple of seasons, which isn't something we want to get used to, but we've been in this position before.

"We haven't had the greatest start to the season, so we can use our experience from the last couple of seasons to turn the results around and start getting a run of games."

The A-League and its clubs are currently battling the wave of COVID-19 sweeping Australia, with the Phoenix not exempt - last week seeing two players and a staff member test positive for the virus.

That's seen the Australian football schedule heavily impacted over the latest rounds of the A-League, including having the Phoenix forced to postpone games.

But with so much time as a collective off the pitch, Payne adds that the team aren't getting too down about their poor run, with senior players such as himself ensuring the Phoenix squad keep their heads up in a difficult situation.

"We've just got to keep things as positive as possible, keep focus on our roles, come in with a smile on our face," Payne adds.

"The fact we get to play another game on Wednesday [means] we can try to turn those results around.

Wellington Phoenix huddle.
Wellington Phoenix huddle. Photo credit: Image - Photosport

"We've just got to keep it as positive as possible, especially us older players because we do have quite a younger squad.

"It's just reminding people that we've got another game, we can turn it around, we've been in this position before."

But if the club can take one positive, it's the fact they can turn things around with their FFA Cup quarter-final in Melbourne on Wednesday.

The Phoenix have already achieved their best result in their history by reaching the quarter-finals, and now have the chance to go one better for a maiden semi-final appearance.

While the Phoenix haven't won in the A-League since November, the team's last victory of any kind came in the FFA Cup, defeating Avondale FC 4-1 in the round of 16.

And for Payne, the chance to rebound so quickly after Saturday's defeat gives the 27-year-old a reason to look forward to Wednesday's clash.

"It's actually one of the beauties of football," he says.

"The fact we haven't had the best of results recently, but the best thing about that is we get the chance to turn it around in the cup on Wednesday, and again on Saturday. 

"We get paid to play football, so we're looking forward to every game. We've had a big pre-season, we're used to the conditions here, we're just looking forward to getting back out there on Wednesday against Melbourne City.

"The club hasn't won the cup before, so that would be a fantastic thing to do."