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Merrick unimpressed despite Phoenix win

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 24/09/2016

Disjointed play and a possible injury headache has left Wellington Phoenix coach Ernie Merrick with plenty to ponder following their latest pre-season win.

A 2-1 defeat of Central Coast Mariners in Nelson on Saturday made it eight warm-up wins from nine for the Phoenix in the lead-up to their A-League opener against Melbourne City in two weeks.

However, Merrick places more stock on performance than results in the off-season and says his team dropped a notch from their efforts in recent weeks.

"I was disappointed with a few aspects of our game.

"The passing from the midfield going forward lacked cohesion and we made too many errors.

"It's something we will have to work on before the first game of the season as we will be missing key players to international duty."

The Mariners were reduced to 10 men in the 33rd minute when Senegal international Jacques Faty was sent off for a foul on Roy Krishna when the Phoenix striker was clear on goal.

Merrick says the visitors counter-attacked well after that and his team didn't adapt well to their player advantage.

He believes they should have scored more than their lone second-half goal, via Krishna's head.

Kosta Barbarouses opened the scoring from the penalty spot before striker Connor Pain responded for the Mariners shortly before Faty's exit.

With a number of Phoenix players expected to be selected for the All Whites team for international matches in the United States, Merrick started with Alex Rodriguez and Matthew Ridenton in the midfield while new signings Jacob Tratt and Adam Parkhouse began in defence.

Defender Tom Doyle, who is expected to be included in the New Zealand squad, could be in doubt for both club and country after suffering a hamstring injury.

The left back entered Saturday's game as a late substitute but quickly departed, appearing in some discomfort and clutching his hamstring.

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