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Beaten Phoenix eye A-League leaders

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 16/10/2016

Wellington Phoenix coach Ernie Merrick is welcoming the arrival of league leaders Sydney FC after his side slumped to the bottom of the A-League standings.

A 2-0 loss away to Perth Glory followed an opening 1-0 setback against Melbourne City, leaving the Phoenix as the only club still to score a goal or register a competition point after two rounds.

Sydney FC, conversely, thrashed Central Coast Mariners 4-0 to mirror the scoreline of their opening-round rout of Western Sydney Wanderers.

Merrick says the challenge is ideal for his team, who he doesn't believe are far off the pace.

"It will be good to play Sydney at home because I would rather play a good team at home rather than another one of these away trips or playing a lower-level team," he said.

"Sydney are on top, they've scored eight goals and it's the ideal time for us to come back."

The Phoenix had bright moments on Sunday, particularly early on as Merrick thrust All Whites internationals Kosta Barbarouses, Michael McGlinchey and Andrew Durante straight back into the fray following a flight from Washington DC.

However, Perth worked their way into the game which was 0-0 at halftime, scoring through Diego Castro from the penalty spot and Nebojsa Marinkovic.

Perth should have scored a third but striker Andy Keogh struck a weak penalty which was saved by Glen Moss.

The Phoenix finished strongly as the home side sat back on their lead but few good chances were created.

Despite suffering a club-record sixth straight loss, Merrick says he has seen enough to be encouraged.

"I'm really disappointed not to have got a draw last week and I would have been happy with a draw this week, but it wasn't to be," he said.

"We're not overly concerned because we have good players and we play good football."

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