MATCH PREVIEW | Phoenix determined to get back on track


Phoenix coach Ernie Merrick is determined to get his team back on track quickly when they take on defending champions Central Coast Mariners at Bluetongue Stadium in Gosford on Friday night.

Coming off a shock 5-0 home loss to Melbourne Heart on Sunday, Merrick insists the only way to react to the setback is to continue in the same attacking vein that brought them 19 points from 24 before that game.

“The worst thing that could happen is to turn into a defensively minded team,” Merrick said.

“Last week was just one of those days when everything went wrong rather than one thing.

“You don-t become a bad team from one game, especially given our recent record.

“Even though we conceded five I-m pretty happy with our defence because we-ve still got a better goal difference than most teams in the league.”

Merrick said the key to doing well in Gosford was getting his midfield right.

“With Albert Riera out I have to get the midfield right so we can continue our attacking style.

“Our midfield is a very hard working unit; it has to be in our system and it-s the launch pad for the way we like to play.

“It has served us pretty well, even in the games we-ve lost such as Sydney away. It has often been because we-ve been pushing on in search of a winner.”

The Phoenix doesn-t have a good record against the Mariners, who are unbeaten in their last 10 encounters with the Wellington outfit.

However that stat is misleading given the last two clashes between the clubs.

Mariners won the first encounter 1-0 at North Sydney Oval when the Phoenix wasted a host of goal-scoring chances, including a penalty kick.

It was a similar story when the Westpac Stadium game ended in a 1-1 draw.

They will be looking to Costa Rican international Carlos Hernandez to continue the good form he has been showing this season.

Hernandez has had a hand in more goals than any other A-League player with five goals and eight assists.

Merrick will be asking for more of the same from Hernandez on Friday night.