Merrick: Phoenix toil deserved more


Like all losing coaches, Wellington Phoenix mentor Ernie Merrick thought his side should have at least scraped a point from their 2-0 loss to the Western Sydney Wanderers in Penrith on Sunday afternoon.

After going down 1-0 in the 18th minute, the Phoenix surged in the second half but couldn’t find an equaliser, eventually conceding in additional time for a 2-0 loss – their second defeat in as many games.

“Every coach thinks they should win the game or deserve a point,” he joked after the match.

“I thought we deserved a point last week but it wasn’t to be and that’s the nature of football. You’ve got to keep pushing and looking for gaps and it’s a credit to the Wanderers, they held on and defended well and got us right at the end which didn’t really matter to me.

“I’d rather push up looking for a goal than go down 1-0.”

That his side performed well in sweltering mid-30 degree heat and in front of a vocal Wanderers crowd was of some consolation to Merrick, and the Phoenix are still hanging onto fourth spot on the ladder by three points over Sydney FC.

“I thought the Wanderers scored in the 18th minute against the run of play and I thought we were playing some really good football,” he said.

“The conditions were really tough for both teams but when you go down 1-0 to the Wanderers, you know Tony’s got the side really well drilled and they’re going to be hard to break-down and that was the story of the game.

“I thought we totally dominated the second half but had nothing to show for it. It’s really hard to get that last pass or the shot in the box when they’ve got so many numbers, but I was pretty proud of the way we played.

“We played attacking football from end to end and to play in that humidity and heat it was a good measure of where we’re at fitness-wise.”

After two losses on the road, Merrick said he’s looking forward to getting back to the club’s new ground in Wellington next weekend.  

“It’s been two tough games away from home but we’re back home at our new venue next week and the crowd will be very close to the touch line like today. That was a great atmosphere, but I’m looking forward to two home games.”