Merrick talks up finals

Ernie Merrick is picking Melbourne Victory and Wellington Phoenix to make the play-offs following his side's 2-0 loss in Wellington on Wednesday night.

Ernie Merrick is picking Melbourne Victory and Wellington Phoenix to make the play-offs following his side's 2-0 loss in Wellington on Wednesday night.

The Victory were totally outplayed by Ricki Herbert's side who took a much-needed three points at Westpac Stadium thanks to goals from Dylan Macallister and man-of-the-match Marco Rojas.

The win took the Phoenix to within one point of sixth-placed Melbourne Heart with a game in hand, while Merrick's side remained in fifth with 32 points.

"There's no doubt the Phoenix will be in the finals and we'll be there as well," said the Scotsman.

"We hope to meet them again in Melbourne and not here. Ricki has done a good job with them."

"The team were up for it and played well, especially without Paul Ifill. I don't know how long Paul's got out but it would be good to see him in the finals as well."

Wellington dominated the match from start to finish and had a wealth of scoring opportunities before Macallister broke the deadlock in the 67th minute when he bundled the ball home after a perfect cross from Rojas, who tormented Tom Pondeljak, playing in the unfamiliar role of right-back.

Rojas fully deserved his goal in the 72nd minute having run rings round the Melbourne defence which was missing Kevin Muscat.

"I didn't expect our players to play so poorly on the flanks and centrally in the midfield," lamented Merrick. "That's unusual for us to play like that. We were just pressured in to giving away the ball and losing possession so much so that we defended for most of the game."

Merrick refused to use the absence of Muscat, Mate Dugandzic, Robbie Kruse and Archie Thompson as excuses for the loss.

"I think we freshened up quite well from the last game (against Central Coast) and we had enough time to recover," he said.

"But there is no doubt there was one team out there that was determined to win and were up for it. Our team were flat and listless and tired mentally but not physically. We ran out the game and it's a credit to Ricki and the team they did so well."

"But we really didn't have anything in midfield. When we got it forward we caused problems. Centrally we defended well but young Rojas killed us on the left hand side. He did really well."

Despite seeing their seven-game unbeaten streak come to an end, stand-in captain Adrian Leijer was confident the team would bounce back.

"We've had a good seven weeks. I think we have to move on from this one pretty quickly," he said.

"The good thing is we've got a game in four days against Adelaide. That's a massive rivalry in itself. This is a hiccup and I'm sure we will recover pretty quickly."