Wellington Phoenix coach Ricki Herbert says it would have been unjust if his side had avoided defeat against Melbourne Victory on Monday.
Victory dominated almost 70 minutes of Monday’s A-League clash, taking a 3-0 lead one minute into the second half.
But a series of substitutions for both sides and a tactical switch by Herbert changed the game, with the Phoenix coming within a goal of stealing a point when Jeremy Brockie claimed a double.
Time ran out for the visitors, and Herbert agreed with reporters when asked after the match if the final 3-2 scoreline flattered his side.
“Absolutely. We weren’t good enough tonight, and let’s pay credit to Melbourne. I thought they were very good, and we were very disappointing,” he said.
“There’s a few small positives. I think we did a couple of very good goals, and showed there’s probably no team in the league that can dominate for long periods if you’re prepared to have go.
“Melbourne were a little bit vulnerable and giving the ball away, and we gave ourselves a real shot at the end.
“But it would have been unfair. As I said, Melbourne certainly deserved to win.”
Herbert said his side paid the price for the space they offered between their central defenders and full-backs.
Marco Rojas scored twice from crosses from fellow wide forward Archie Thompson, while Gui Finkler found plenty of room through the middle.
“If you don’t get pressure in there, the wide players are going to do the damage – which they did,” Herbert said.
“But we changed a little bit, and when we put three in midfield we started to compete.
“I think we managed to get a share of the game, which was always going to be important for us.”
With Herbert doubling as New Zealand coach, he praised both “Kiwi boys” Rojas and Brockie, and said the latter would have a “real weight off” his shoulders after scoring his first goals of the season.