A desperately unlucky Wellington Phoenix bowed out of the FFA Cup when beaten 1-0 by Adelaide United at Mardon Sports Complex on Tuesday night.
A 32nd minute goal from Sergio Cirio Olivares, with Adelaide’s first real chance of the game, was enough to send Adelaide through, though the home side rode their luck in the second half with the Phoenix creating several chances they were unable to convert into a goal.
In a frantic finish Adelaide held on by the skin of their teeth as Ben Sigmund thumped a header against the cross bar and goalkeeper Paul Izzo pulled off a superb save to deny Tom Doyle’s follow up effort.
With their midfield disturbed by the absence of Albert Riera (away with the All Stars) and Alex Rodriguez injured, the Phoenix were a little disjointed, though Michael Boxall and Matt Ridenton did a good job defensively.
Coach Ernie Merrick watched the game from the stands after being banned from the bench and technical area because he hadn’t signed a code of conduct document and was impressed by his side’s performance.
“I was pretty impressed with our boys tonight despite them missing out,” Merrick said.
“Our keeper only made two saves and we created six good scoring chances but didn’t take them, and if you don’t score you don’t win games.
“We should have had one penalty, if not two, in the first five minutes. In the first Tyler Boyd was blatantly taken out in the area.
“I guess our luck just wasn’t in tonight.”
Of his being banished to the stands Merrick joked that the players were probably happy to have him there rather than on the side line shouting at them. Confirming the ban was because he hadn’t signed a document Merrick said he had wanted time to take advice on the grievance procedure that was included in it.
As the document pertained to the A-League he was surprised the FFA had insisted it be signed immediately, and wondered whether the coaches of all the teams that had already taken part in the FFA Cup preliminary rounds had been asked to sign the document.
“I just wanted to take a close look at it and get some legal advice on the grievance procedures because you only have to look at the way the FFA has handled the McGlinchey issue,” he said.
“They had a hearing about that on Monday and they will probably let us know the outcome in a couple of years!
“It has been going on for months and I don’t know why they have left the boy in limbo for so long.”
Despite being knocked out Merrick described the concept of the FFA Cup as great, though he didn’t know whether it had been thought through so far as the timing went, “To have the A-League teams coming in when their players are involved in the All Stars games is strange, as is the time the All Stars players are in camp.
“The coach of the All Stars team has more time with the players than the national coach does.
“To have them in camp for 10 days takes a big chunk out of A-League clubs pre-season work.”