Herbert issues Phoenix warning

Wellington Phoenix coach Ricki Herbert has put his players on notice after a disappointing 2-1 loss to Sydney FC.

Wellington Phoenix coach Ricki Herbert has put his players on notice after a disappointing 2-1 loss to Sydney FC.

Sydney, who were reduced to 10 men following Terry McFlynn's sending off for a second bookable offence in the 85th minute, had not won in Wellington since January 2008 but claimed all three points at Westpac Stadium thanks to goals from Sebastian Ryall and Rhyan Grant.

It gave Frank Farina a win in his first game in charge but left opposite number Herbert bitterly disappointed by his side's flat performance.

"Poor, absolutely right across the board," was Herbert's summing up of the defeat.

"We failed to perform anywhere today. We couldn't look after the ball. Everyone looked flat. We got no rotation out of midfield and we ended up going long. It was not good enough today."

Wellington headed into the game on a three-game unbeaten run and with the chance to move up to fourth spot with a win.

"I think today was a great chance to keep that sequence going," said Herbert.

"But we looked like a side with the bottom of the table coming and maybe expectations aren't that strong. You drop off in this league you're going to get punished for it.

"It's a massive disappointment. We're all hurting on this one."

Sloppy defending left Ryall unmarked on his run into the box and he was able to head in the opener on the stroke of half-time before Grant doubled the lead in the second spell with a nicely taken shot after he was put through by McFlynn.

Jeremy Brockie got a consolation from the penalty spot after Adam Griffiths brought Manny Muscat down in the box in stoppage time.

"We just didn't defend from front to back. We didn't shut down at the top. We allowed them to get out. We didn't get tight in midfield and consequently they move forward and they are going to create chances," lamented Herbert.

"The first goal, off a set-play. People not taking the responsibility to pick up and look after their man and you get a player free with a header. You're going to get punished for that."

Substitutes Louis Fenton, Tyler Boyd and Benjamin Totori at least brought some enthusiasm and Herbert hinted at changes for next week's trip to second-placed Adelaide.

"Those young boys are great. They are going to throw themselves right in the mix for the away game against Adelaide next week and why not," said the coach, who will also have Dani Sanchez available for the first time since off-season knee surgery.

"We've been stable in the group with the selection and I think those boys do give you something. They are the future of the club. They certainly don't let you down.

"They probably got us going slightly but at the end of the day any result would have been an injustice today."