Phoenix, Perth draw 1-1 in Wellington


Phoenix coach Ernie Merrick remains convinced his team can make the Hyundai A-League playoffs despite dropping two points in a 1-1 draw with Perth Glory at Westpac Stadium on Sunday evening.

While disappointed with the result in a game he felt his team should have won, Merrick was pleased with the players- reaction after their drubbing in Adelaide the previous week.

“I think it is well documented that I wasn-t happy with the commitment shown when we went two goals down in Adelaide,” Merrick said.

“That definitely wasn-t the case today and after conceding a goal from what I think was Perth-s only shot of the game the boys delivered in that area.

“We attacked for most of the second half, scored the goal and I was disappointed we didn-t get the winner.”

In his first season with the Phoenix Merrick must wonder what he has done to deserve the unbelievable run of injuries that have disrupted his team.

With Paul Ifill, Louis Fenton, Albert Riera and Reece Caira already ruled out of the rest of the season, young fullback Josh Brindell-South joined them with a season-ending ankle injury after falling foul of one of the many sand-filled holes on the pitch.

The awful surface contributed to a scratchy first-half performance from both teams during which former Chelsea star William Gallas gave his team the lead in the 36th minute.

The second half belonged entirely to the home side but all they had to show for their efforts was an 85th minute headed goal by Kenny Cunningham.

Despite his disappointment Merrick said he would take some positives from the performance.

“Shaun Timmins came on in difficult circumstances when Josh was injured and did a good job,” Merrick said.

“Matt Ridenton, a 17-year-old, played 90 minutes and looked good while Roy (Krishna) made his starting debut and was unlucky not to score when he hit the post.

“Our All Whites came back from a midweek game in Japan and did really well so there are positives to look at.”

Asked if he still believed the Phoenix could make the finals Merrick answered with a firm “definitely”.

Wellington Phoenix: Glen Moss, Michael Boxall, Ben Sigmund, Andrew Durante (captain), Josh Brindell-South (Shaun Timmins 26m), Vince Lia, Kenny Cunningham, Carlos Hernandez (Jason Hicks 63m), Matthew Ridenton, Stein Huysgems, Roy Krishna (Tyler Boyd 71m).