Football 2 years ago

Poor finishing continues to cost Phoenix

  • Poor finishing continues to cost Phoenix

Wellington Phoenix paid the price for their lack of quality strikers on Saturday, beaten 3-1 by Central Coast Mariners at Christchurch's AMI Stadium.

After a scoreless first half, Liverpool legend Luis Garcia scored one goal and set up two others as Wellington were punished for squandering a truckload of chances.

Garcia's second-half introduction galvanised Central Coast after a scoreless first spell, the Spaniard scoring after five minutes before setting up Storm Roux and Mitch Austin.

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Phoenix striker Blake Powell's 92nd minute goal meant Wellington retained a modicum of pride, but coach Ernie Merrick remained uncharacteristically downbeat after the match.

"I just don't think we have quality strikers up front," he said.

"The service is good - I think it could improve - but I just don't think we've got the experience up front."

Merrick said Wellington's defence was rock solid, despite missing skipper Andrew Durante to suspension, while youngster Joel Stevens had a solid game up front alongside Blake Powell.

"But the bottom line is strikers get measure on goals scored," he said.

"The quality of football was very good but the quality of goal scoring was very poor.

"We just don't get shots off on target."

Injured striker Roy Krishna won't be back soon enough to solve any immediate woes up front, but with a day still left in the transfer window, it's still possible Merrick has a surprise to spring.

He isn't whitewashing the blow Wellington have taken in losing to the A-League wooden spooners - the bottom line is winning, he points out, and Wellington haven't done that for eight matches.

But he still has confidence his team will make the top six and qualify for the play-offs.

"I've been through everything you can imagine, from state league football to NSL teams and two A-League teams.

"I still think we've got a team that can make the finals."

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