The Wellington Phoenix’ A-League final hopes were severely dented when they were beaten 5-0 by a fired-up Newcastle Jets at Hunter Stadium on Saturday night.
The Wellington Phoenix- A-League final hopes were severely dented when they were beaten 5-0 by a fired-up Newcastle Jets at Hunter Stadium on Saturday night.
It was only the second time in 11 meetings that the Jets had come out on top over the Phoenix, and the first time they had been successful against the Wellington side at home since 2010.
The disappointing loss couldn-t have come at a worse time for the Phoenix with only three games left in the regular season.
A bitterly disappointed Ernie Merrick admitted the finals now looked a step too far for his team, but said they would be giving everything in those three games.
From the first whistle it was the home side that pressed hard and it was no more than the Jets deserved when an unmarked Emile Heskey gave them the lead in the 35th minute.
Had the Phoenix kept it to a one-goal disadvantage for a time in the second spell it could have been a different story, but Joel Griffiths doubled the Jets- lead a minute into the second spell and Adam Taggart ,made it 3-0 11 minutes later.
Taggart and Michael Bridges scored further goals to add to the Phoenix- misery.
Merrick was far from happy with his team-s performance but said in a way he felt sorry for the players.
“We-ve struggled week in week out, particularly these last few weeks to turn out a stable starting eleven,” he said.
“I-m continually changing the backline and midfield. Michael Boxall has hardly played centre back all year, Manny (Muscat) has gone from midfield to fullback and Shaun Timmins, who has hardly played or trained for five months has been thrown in at left back.
“Our backline was very poor. Two corner kicks where we left a player completely free is not like us and the third goal, which killed us, came through a cross from open play where we didn-t mark.
“We couldn-t keep the ball in midfield which again has been constantly changing.”
Merrick admitted a place in the finals may now be a step too far for his team.
“We would need to play consistently well for three games and win them all and I don-t see that happening with the line-up we have at the moment,” he said.
“Suspensions and injuries have taken their toll. You can get away with it for so long but it has now caught up with us.”
Wellington Phoenix: Glen Moss, Manny Muscat, Michael Boxall, Andrew Durante, Shaun Timmins, Vince Lia, Matthew Ridenton (Jason Hicks 52min), Roy Krishna (Hamish Watson 72 min), Kenny Cunning ham, Tyler Boyd (Jeremy Brockie 52 min), Stein Huysegems.