Nightmare in Adelaide for Phoenix

Wellington Phoenix’ visit to South Australia turned into a nightmare when they were beaten 5-1 by Adelaide United at Coopers Stadium on Thursday night.

Wellington Phoenix- visit to South Australia turned into a nightmare when they were beaten 5-1 by Adelaide United at Coopers Stadium on Thursday night.

The Phoenix finished a game in which they were always second best with nine men after Manny Muscat was sent off for a second yellow card in the 73rd minute and Kenny Cunnigham limped out of the game with a foot injury in the 88th.

The Wellington side had already lost Reece Caira early in the second half with a suspected fractured eye socket and cheekbone after a clash with Tarek Elrich.

It was a major disappointment for coach Ernie Merrick after the exciting 4-1 win over Central Coast Mariners in Gosford six days earlier.

There were no excuses from Merrick who said Adelaide deserved the win and that his team had played poorly.

“We were second to every ball and our passing was the worst I have seen,” Merrick said.

“It was a poor performance but you can-t take anything away from Adelaide who played really well and deserved what they got.”

Right from the first whistle the Phoenix were second best - something Merrick found hard to explain - and it was no surprise when Jeronimo Neumann gave Adelaide the lead with a superb right foot strike in the 23rd minute.

Sergio Cirio made it four goals in two games six minutes later, and it was only some good goalkeeping by Glen Moss that kept the deficit to two goals at the halftime break.

While the Phoenix were trying to get Josh Brindell-South on to replace Caira in the 59th minute Adelaide added a third through Fabio Ferreira.

Three minutes later Neumann scored his second and Adelaide-s fourth, and Awer Mabil completed the scoring for Adelaide in the 92nd minute after Kenny Cunningham had netted for the Phoenix in the 67th minute.

The only Phoenix players to come out of the game with credit from Merrick were Moss and substitute Matt Ridenton, 17, who replaced Tyler Boyd after only 33 minutes.

“It was no reflection on Tyler that I took him off so early, merely that we were losing the midfield with two against three and I needed to adjust it,” Merrick said.

“Young Ridenton did really well and is going to develop into a top-class player.

“He will be in the starting line up next week with Manny suspended.”

Wellington Phoenix: Glen Moss, Michael Boxall, Ben Sigmund, Reece Caira (Josh Brindell-South 59m), Vince Lia, Manny Muscat, Kenny Cunningham, Carlos Hernandez (Jeremy Brockie 75m), Tyler Boyd (Matt Ridenton 33m), Stein Huysegems.