Football 3 years ago

Time to cut back on corners: Merrick

  • Time to cut back on corners: Merrick

Wellington Phoenix have conceded 44 corners in their last five matches, and coach Ernie Merrick has had enough.

Merrick says a combination of naivety, inexperience and laziness has resulted in the rapidly expanding corner count.

In Sunday's disappointing 1-1 draw with Central Coast Mariners in Gosford, the Phoenix conceded 15 corners while forcing just two.

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Merrick is demanding better from his players on Friday evening when they host winless Adelaide United at Westpac Stadium.

It's a key game for the Phoenix, who are looking for an on-field performance to underline their off-field drive for an A-League licence extension.

"I think it's naivety most of the time - the boys are quite happy to give a corner kick rather than a clearance, because they feel they can't clear," Merrick said.

"Sometimes with corners you can't help it, it's a deflection or a good save.

"It's the ones that are a bit more deliberate that we're not accepting any more. If it keeps happening, there will be consequences."

Despite Wellington's problematic corner count, Merrick is satisfied with his defence.

He is impressed with the way Justin Gulley stepped in at right back in the absence of Tom Doyle, and also happy with Alex Rodriguez's midfield effort in place of the injured Vince Lia.

"I thought last week was terrific. In the middle, Ben Sigmund and Andrew Durante did a good job, and I was impressed with Justin Gulley in his first game - he was outstanding."

The Phoenix will be missing five players on international duty with the All Whites in Oman on Friday, with the absence of creative midfielder Michael McGlinchey expected to be keenly felt.

Merrick is unsure how he'll structure his front three, particularly given it's still unclear how much game time striker Roy Krishna will manage after playing for Fiji in their 2-1 loss to Vanuatu on Tuesday.

"He's good, but fatigued - the question is whether I start him or not, and I'll leave that until tomorrow."

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