Phoenix coach Ernie Merrick has lauded the performance of Roly Bonevacia after the Dutchman orchestrated Wellington’s thrilling 4-2 win over Adelaide United on Friday night.
Not since club talisman Paul Ifill carved Gold Coast United to bits in a 6-0 win in October 2009 has a Phoenix player had such a big influence on a game of football.
“I thought he was truly exceptional,” Merrick told reporters post game.
Bonevacia scored two of the Phoenix’s goals, the second a 25-metre contender for goal of the season which took his side into a 3-1 lead ten minutes into the second half.
“I was just on the brink of saying to Chris Greenacre, ‘I hope he’s not going to shoot!’ and just as I said it, I then had to say, ‘Good goal’” joked Merrick.
“There’s no doubt about his technique. He’s been shooting off balance and a bit too far out but he just caught that one beautifully. It was a terrific goal; one of the best I’ve seen.”
But Merrick had praise too for Fijian striker Roy Krishna who equalised for the Phoenix sixty seconds after they’d fallen behind to a third minute Craig Goodwin goal.
“I thought he was the same (as Roly). Roy’s played three games in six days in three different countries,” said Merrick.
“It was a good all-round performance. We were pretty solid at the back, our midfield were dominant and up front we suddenly clicked with Roy high, Roly in behind with a lot more freedom, Blake (Powell) on the right and Jeffrey Sarpong who played a good game.”
“There was a lot of flair and a lot of creativity, but there was a lot of substance behind that performance as well. I think we were unlucky not to score seven goals.”
And Merrick was pleased with the depth in the squad after he was shorn of five of his roster by New Zealand international duty.
“In the past we’ve lost players to the All Whites and it’s been a disaster, but look at the players who came in. Even though (Michael) McGlinchey is a key player, Roly did that job beautifully.
"We’re building that depth that we need to sustain a good challenge in this league,” said Merrick.