Football 2 years ago

Merrick at pains to explain goal drought

  • Merrick at pains to explain goal drought

The goals have dried up at Wellington, and so have coach Ernie Merrick's answers.

The A-League's most experienced coach was at a loss to explain his side's sudden performance slippage in the front third, which continued frustratingly in their 3-1 defeat in Newcastle on Sunday.

While the Jets opened the floodgates on their own record-breaking drought, the Phoenix have copped the same sickness, going seven games without multiple goals on the scoresheet.

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Flying in third spot after round three, they are now four points behind the top six.

Merrick's frontline again looked devoid of options in the Hunter, spurning a dominant 67 per cent possession rate and taking twice as many shots on goal as their opposition without much result.

Even worse, they played the final half hour with an extra man.

"It just shows you it doesn't matter how much possession you have, or how many shots you have at goal - we had 548 passes, our record - we had 20 shots at goal, twice as many, and yet the only person that could score for our team was a 19-year-old substitute wingback," Merrick said.

"And that sums up our last half a dozen games."

Injuries to both Roy Krishna and Jeffery Sarpong have left Merrick without two of his major options.

The loss of Krishna in particular, who leads the team with seven goals, has been a significant blow.

But Merrick said that disappointment was realised in December, and also argued that Krishna had only shot to stardom in recent months.

"He was pretty good last season, he scored nine last season, but Roy's come a long way in a short period of time," he said.

"We've got other players that should be doing that as well. They've had a fair few games now and they've just got to become consistent goalscorers."

The return of experienced defenders Manny Muscat and Louis Fenton will shore up an inexperienced defense-line for next week's match against Melbourne City, but Merrick said his problems lie elsewhere.

"No matter how much work we do at training, we can't get them to make runs in behind," he said.

"Unless you get in behind their backline, you're not going to score goals. Even when we're in the six-yard box, we couldn't score goals.

"It's the lack of players that are desperate to score goals on our team that's causing us problems."

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