The Wellington Phoenix’ FFA Cup run came to a shuddering halt at AAMI Park on Wednesday night when they were beaten 5-1 by Melbourne City.
While the Phoenix began brightly once they had gone behind to an Aaron Mooy penalty they drifted out of the game.
Playing their second game in four days, there was a lethargic look about the Phoenix and by halftime they were trailing 4-1 with only a Roy Krishna penalty to show for their efforts.
While disappointed with the performance and result Phoenix coach Ernie Merrick wasn’t too downhearted and said his team had been beaten by a better side on the night.
“City looked fresh and keen tonight and they deserved the win,” Merrick said.
“We played in New Plymouth on Sunday and that was our whole squad because even though it was New Zealand A against the Phoenix the New Zealand team had eight of our players in it.
“It was a very intense game and then we had a four hour bus journey home.
“We had a day off on Monday, flew over here on Tuesday and the boys had to front up again.
“We had a few out with injuries and had five 19-year-olds on the field tonight and I think it showed in the fatigue and inexperience but that is what pre-season is about.
“I’m not concerned about it in the slightest. I saw a few things that I wanted to see from the young players who are amateurs and some of them really stood up.
“I thought Andrew Blake at left back did a good job and Tamu Dimairo was terrific when he came on at right back.
“Joel Stevens also did a good job up front and if anything it was a couple of the senior players who let us down, but I think fatigue played a major part in the game.”
There were four penalties in the game and while City converted both theirs, Roy Krishna scored one and had one saved.
“We have got Glen Moss to come back in goal, Louis Fenton, Tom Doyle and Alex Rodriguez to come back from injury and our new signing Jeffrey Sarpong to come in when he gets some training under his belt,” Merrick said.