Wellington Phoenix coach Ernie Merrick was far from downcast despite his side being unable to convert a number of chances in drawing 1-1 with the Central Coast Mariners.
“I just got a note from a friend of mine who said that’s the first official 1-all massacre” joked the amiable Scot after watching his side come from behind to grab a share of the points at Eden Park.
“It was close to our best performance (of the season). It just needs that final poke into the back of the net for everyone to be really, really happy. If we play that like every week there won’t be many draws. We’ll win games playing like that”, Merrick said.
Despite numerous first-half chances, the home side found themselves 1-0 down at half-time, courtesy of a close-range effort from Matt Simon.
“At half-time I just praised the boys to death. I told them I’d rather come in here a goal down having played that quality of football than be up a goal and be playing the way the other team are.”
“That’s the kind of football you have to play to get in the finals and do well in the finals. According to the stats I’ve just seen, we played 576 passes at 86 percent success rate and we didn’t have a bad player.
“We had 21 shots and they rode their luck and got away with it. I know it’s frustrating but I just see the positives out of the game. It was a great, great game from us.”
Merrick even refused to chastise his players for their prolificacy in front of goal.
“I’m not even slightly disappointed. I’ve got nothing but praise for a performance like that. You play a game like that again and you’ll win and win well. If we play like that week in and week out, we’re going to thrash teams.”
“All the players in the A-League are mates and they’ve got the feedback from their opposition tonight. They know they played well. They’re disappointed with the draw but they know they played great football.”
Despite scoring at a rate of nearly two goals per game through the first ten rounds of the season, the Phoenix have kept just one clean sheet, but Merrick remained steadfast in his footballing philosophy.
“I’ve got a policy and it’s not about keeping a clean sheet because if the other team score, that’s it all finished, is it? We were supposed to keep a clean sheet and we’ve given up a goal so we give up now? No. Our policy is score and keep scoring and don’t play for a draw. We never stopped going forward; when we scored one, we were after another and on another day, we would have got it.”