MATCH PREVIEW | Merrick Looking for Early Christmas Cheer


All Ernie Merrick wants for Christmas is some goals, and he hopes the festive season comes early when his team takes on Perth Glory at NIB Stadium on Friday night.

He isn-t looking for Santa to bring a bag full, just the one or two that will earn the Phoenix their first win of the season because given the brand of football they have been playing it should have arrived by now.

Despite that first win proving elusive, Merrick knows he is on the right path if last week-s performance in the scoreless draw with last season-s premiers is anything to go by.

“I would have lots of concerns about where we are if weren-t playing such good football,” Merrick said after the team-s training session on the stadium on Thursday morning.

“Against the Wanderers we had 10 corners to their four and 14 shots to eight. Those are Optus stats so it is an independent source.

“There were lots of crosses along with good midfield play and it is only a matter of time before we begin finishing it off.

“It all comes down to that final pass of putting the ball into the net because we are passing the ball well all over the rest of the field.”

Merrick points out that while the Phoenix have lost three of their seven games two of those losses came in the last minute of the game.

“The luck will swing our way if we keep playing the way we are. It almost did in the last seconds on Sunday when Paul Ifill hit the post.

“The attitude of all the players has been first class and they are all taking major steps in their game.

“We-ve not been outplayed by anyone and should have won three games by now.”
The Phoenix will be without Carlos Hernandez, who has been ruled out of the Perth game with a muscle injury, and Manny Muscat who is serving a one-match suspension after picking up his fifth yellow card of the season against Western Sydney.

Seventeen-year-old Matthew Ridenton has travelled with the squad after finishing his school exams, but with Merrick opting to take an extra player to Western Australia as cover for Albert Riera, who had a minor groin strain, the youngster is likely to watch from the stands.

Merrick won-t name his team till just before the game but there is every chance Paul Ifill will start rather than coming off the bench as he has in recent weeks.

With Costa Rican international Kenny Cunningham starting to hit his straps the prospect of Cunningham, Ifill, Jeremy Brockie and the in-form Stein Huysegems playing in the same team is a mouth-watering prospect and surely a source of goals.

Wellington Phoenix squad; Glen Moss, Louis Fenton, Ben Sigmund, Andrew Durante (captain), Reece Caira, Josh Brindell-South, Michael Boxall, Vince Lia, Jason Hicks, Albert Riera, Leo Bertos, Paul Ifill, Kenny Cunningham, Stein Huysegems, Jeremy Brockie, Matthew Ridenton, Lewis Italiano.