Wellington coach Ernie Merrick was left ruing a failure to score goals after the home side slumped to a 2-1 loss to A-League leaders Brisbane Roar.
Wellington coach Ernie Merrick believes his side is not out of the A-League playoffs race yet but concedes they will be if they don’t start scoring goals.
The Phoenix, who have yet to win this season and were ninth on the ladder heading into this weekend’s fixtures, arguably played their best 90 minutes of football against league leaders Brisbane Roar in Wellington on Saturday.
But their inability to score, despite putting the Roar under sustained pressure and making keeper Michael Theo work hard, was costly again as they went down 2-1 at Westpac Stadium.
Carlos Hernandez broke his goal-scoring duck for the Phoenix from the penalty spot early in the second half after Brisbane defender Matt Smith had given his side a 1-0 halftime lead against the run of play.
Keeper Glen Moss then gave the Phoenix hope when he saved a Besart Berisha penalty in the 65th minute only for Ivan Franjic to curl home the winner 16 minutes from time in a repeat of the Roar’s first round victory in October.
“There were more than enough chances to win the game and the stats will show how well we played,” said Merrick.
“But the stat that matters is the number of goals and they weren’t there.
“We must start scoring goals or else we will miss out on the finals. I still think there is time to be in the finals, but we’ve got to start scoring goals.”
Jeremy Brockie’s glaring miss in the 26th minute summed up the Phoenix’s season so far.
The unmarked New Zealand international striker blazed over the bar from six yards out with the goal at his mercy.
The Roar’s opener came in the 37th minute when Smith got a toe to Thomas Broich’s free-kick to the back post despite the despairing dive of Ben Sigmund.
“Ben had him marked but he slipped and the other player slipped but somehow the other player got his foot to it and it just rolled into the goal. Have you seen that working for us?” lamented Merrick.
The second half was the tale of two penalties before Franjic, who scored the late winner in round one, struck the killer blow.
“It probably appears to them at the moment that there’s no end in sight for them in terms of getting points,” said Roar coach Mike Mulvey.
“But if they continue to play the way they did I’m sure they will pick some points up very soon.”