Ernie Merrick concedes time is running out for Wellington Phoenix to challenge for the Hyundai A-League finals after slumping to another loss to Melbourne City on Monday night.
Phoenix was torn apart by a rampant City as Bruno Fornaroli and Harry Novillo (two) scored the goals in a 3-1 loss for the visitors at AAMI Park.
It’s now seven games without a win for the Kiwi club, who are seven points adrift of sixth-placed Adelaide with 11 games to go.
But it’s the next two – both at home against the Mariners and Glory – which Phoenix will need to win if they are to make a late-season charge for the top six.
“We’ve got to start winning games and picking up three points on a regular basis,” Merrick told Fox Sports.
“But until we start scoring goals and providing good service to the strikers, we’re not going to win games.
“The difference between Melbourne City and other teams is they have two strikers that are on fire and scoring goals,” he added.
“And they have a player like Aaron Moy setting them up and giving good service and that was the difference tonight.”
The only bright spot for Phoenix on a difficult night was Roly Bonevacia’s stunning strike to pull a goal back midway through the second half.
The Dutchman let rip with a shot from all of 30 yards, the ball swerving through the air and flying into the top corner for another goal of the season contender.
“The trouble is he’ll [Bonevacia] score goals like that but it takes quite a few shots until he does score,” Merrick said when asked about the goal.
“In the meantime he gives away possession at other times. That will just encourage him to shoot from distance a bit too often…but it was a good goal.
“We’re playing [Bonevacia] out of position. We’re playing him high which he’s not comfortable with, he’s really a middle midfielder.
“But we’re struggling to find players up front. We had to bring on a 20-year-old amateur player [Joel Stevens] eventually.”