Phoenix coach rues overpowered midfield


Wellington Phoenix boss Ernie Merrick admitted his side struggled to contain Melbourne City’s early ambush as the hosts slumped to a season-opening defeat on Saturday.

Anthony Caceres’ solitary goal split the two sides but City could well have had more in a commanding first 45.

REPORT: 10-man City win in Wellington

“We were overrun in the midfield and I don’t think we really got hold of the midfield at all (or) kept possession in the first half,” Merrick said.

“I thought in the second half we had better chances. I still don’t think the midfield play was particularly good.

“After the send-off we had more than enough chances to get an equaliser and just couldn’t do it.”

Ernie Merrick

Merrick said he was “really keen” for the return of key attackers Kosta Barbarouses and Michael McGlinchey, who are expected to travel to Perth next weekend alongside veteran defender Andrew Durante.

One player sure to retain his place for the trip is off-season recruit Adam Parkhouse.

“I think we’ve snared an excellent player,” Merrick said of the former Manly United man.

“He was signed as an attacking option but because of circumstances I had to play him as a fullback and he did that job so well.

“I thought he was a real shining light, but all he can do is provide service. We just didn’t have anyone to finish it off in the box.”