Wellington Phoenix coach Ernie Merrick says the difference in acclimatisation to warm conditions played a key part in his side’s late defeat to Brisbane Roar in Cairns.
Pre-match sickness and injury prevented defensive trio Tom Doyle, Ben Sigmund and Justin Gulley from playing a part in the match as Phoenix were ultimately overrun in the final 20 minutes.
The withdrawals restricted the visitors to only two substitutions despite the taxing heat.
“The longer the game went on the more we deteriorated due to the weather conditions and they adapted well,” Merrick said.
“They play and train regularly in this type of heat in Brisbane. We knew that it would come down to that.
“I can only praise the boys but we’re going away feeling as though we should have at least gotten a draw out of it.”
Despite the disappointment of the 2-1 defeat, Merrick praised the overall experience of the Hyundai A-League’s first venture to Cairns.
“I’d like to say it’s been absolutely fantastic coming up to northern Queensland,” the Wellington boss said.
“I think the crowds that come in are terrific, the hospitality we’ve been shown is first class and I pat Brisbane Roar on the back for bringing this game up here.
“If it was a couple of hours later we might have been able to hold on a bit longer but I thought it was a good spectacle and a great crowd and a credit to everyone involved in organising it.”