Long after the final whistle had blown on the Wellington Phoenix’ 2-1 loss to Brisbane Roar on Saturday night head coach Ernie Merrick was still shaking his head and asking himself what his team had to do to win a game.
Long after the final whistle had blown on the Wellington Phoenix- 2-1 loss to Brisbane Roar on Saturday night head coach Ernie Merrick was still shaking his head and asking himself what his team had to do to win a game.
He had just watched the Phoenix take on the A-League leaders and not only match them but at times outplay arguably the most talented team in the competition.
As has been the case all season the only thing missing from another good performance was goals.
Carlos Hernandez did find the net in the 48th minute from the penalty spot to cancel out Matt Smith-s first half, goal but a 74th minute curler from outside the penalty area by Ivan Franjic broke the Phoenix- hearts.
Before Roar-s winner Phoenix goalkeeper Glen Moss had brought the crowd to its feet by saving a Besart Berisha penalty and it seemed the home side-s luck was about to change.
It wasn-t to be and the Phoenix will still be seeking their first win of the season when they take on Central Coast Mariners in Sydney on Thursday night.
Asked to assess his team-s performance and to sum up how frustrated he was, Merrick took a few moments before answering.
“I realised today just how good this team is,” Merrick said.
“It is a very good team and I thought we outplayed the team that is top of the league.
“I thought we bounced back from the poor performance against Perth.
“It was great to see our back four so rock solid, especially Louis Fenton who bounced back so well after coming under a lot of pressure in Perth.
“Our midfield of Vince Lia, Albert Riera and our new attacking midfielder Kenny Cunningham went very well.
“Up front we created a lot of goal scoring chances . . . but we have nothing to show for it.
“We have to score goals. I have never come across a team that can play such good football and not score goals.
“We did more than enough to win the game and the stats will show that. But the stat that matters is the number of goals you score.
“We had a lot of shots on target but they would hit someone-s knee on the goal line or the keeper would make a good save.
“It wasn-t that we weren-t on target but nothing seems to fall for us at the moment.”
The way things are going at present for the Wellington side was summed up when Jeremy Brockie, normally one of the most lethal finishers in the competition, missed an open goal from close range in the first half when the game was scoreless.
Merrick is convinced the results will start to come but conceded that had to be sooner rather than later if the Phoenix are to make the finals.