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Worst Nix performance of season: Merrick

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 31/10/2016

<span style="font-size:13px;">The Wellington Phoenix looked "intimidated" early in their 6-1 thrashing from Melbourne Victory but coach Ernie Merrick remains confident of a turnaround.</span> © Getty The Wellington Phoenix looked "intimidated" early in their 6-1 thrashing from Melbourne Victory but coach Ernie Merrick remains confident of a turnaround. Wellington Phoenix coach Ernie Merrick says their 6-1 humbling from Melbourne Victory was the new low point in a winless start to the A-League season.

Merrick can't explain why his team looked "intimidated" early in the thrashing in Melbourne, finding themselves 2-0 down after two penalties were conceded in quick succession in the first half.

They scored their first goal of the season through a penalty on the hour mark to Roy Krishna but fell apart after promoted centre back Dylan Fox was sent off for a second yellow card.

Striker Besart Berisha completed a hat-trick and All White Marco Rojas bagged a brace in the closing stages.

Merrick's greater concern was his team's lacklustre start, coming after competitive outings in their three opening losses this season.

"I don't think we can take anything out of that performance, we started off very nervously and it took a while before we really started playing any fluid possession play at all," Merrick said.

"I thought we started off a little bit rusty and a little bit intimidated."

However, Merrick continues to defend his team, saying they showed enough in their first three losses to suggest better results lie ahead.

"I think we have a very good team who up until today played really good football, if you give away two penalties and have a player sent off, it's totally unrealistic to think you're going to come back and win the game, but the boys fought right to the end.

"I actually think this is the only poor standard game we've played."

The 1-0 losses to league powerhouses Melbourne City and Sydney FC gave a better glimpse of how well his side could play, Merrick said.

He will hope Italian central defender Marco Rossi will recover from a thigh injury in time for Saturday's home game against Newcastle Jets.

Rossi was a late withdrawal on Monday, thrusting Fox into a difficult assignment.

"Dylan Fox was just inexperienced to play against the likes of Berisha who did a good job," Merrick said.

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