Practice Doesn't make Perfect for Phoenix

The old adage of practice makes perfect definitely doesn’t apply to the Wellington Phoenix judging by their 1-0 loss to Central Coast Mariners at North Sydney Oval on Thursday night.

The old adage of practice makes perfect definitely doesn-t apply to the Wellington Phoenix judging by their 1-0 loss to Central Coast Mariners at North Sydney Oval on Thursday night.

Still searching for their first win of the Hyundai A-League season, the Phoenix played below the standard they have set in previous games under coach Ernie Merrick in the first half and trailed 1-0 at halftime after Storm Roux took advantage of a defensive mistake.

In the second half they totally outplayed the defending champions but squandered chance after chance, including missing a penalty.

The irony is that under Merrick the Phoenix spend an inordinate amount of time practising their shooting during training, but appear to freeze when it really matters on game day.

Merrick insists every training session ends with a penalty shoot -out among the players as he still has nightmares about missing out on a third A-League title in a shoot-out when coach of Melbourne Victory.

That didn-t prevent Stein Huysegems, who had another strong game, having his spot kick saved by Mariners keeper Liam Reddy early in the second half.

The team-s normal penalty taker, Paul Ifill, was still on the bench at that time but when the veteran striker took the field he twice went close to scoring.

The Phoenix had shots blocked on the goal line, Reddy made three fine saves, while other chances went begging.

Merrick was almost laughing with frustration when he sat down for his media conference.

“This is unbelievable. It is happening week in week out,” he said.

“On the positive side the longer the game went on the better we got.

“We didn-t play as well as we can in the first half and at halftime I told them they had to play through the midfield rather than play long, hopeful balls.

“They did that and we took control of the game. I felt if we had scored from the penalty we would have gone on and won the game.

“There was chance after chance after chance. Yes, it is frustrating.

“The optimistic outlook is that if we keep playing like this it will start to happen.

“The players know they are playing well and it is fair to say we have had a tough start to the season.

“We-ve played minor premiers Wanderers twice, Brisbane Roar, arguably the best team in the league, twice, as well as playing Sydney and Victory away from home.

“We-ve only had three games at Westpac so far and I-m looking forward to being there more often now.”

Wellington Phoenix: Glen Moss, Louis Fenton, Ben Sigmund, Andrew Durante, Manny Muscat, Vince Lia, Albert Riera, Jason Hicks (Paul Ifill 62m), Kenny Cunningham (Tyler Boyd 73m), Jeremy Brockie, Stein Huysegems.