Phoenix eyeing finals after Heart win

Wellington Phoenix coach Ernie Merrick was disappointed with his side's performance despite emerging victorious against Melbourne Heart at AAMI Park on Friday night.

Wellington Phoenix coach Ernie Merrick was disappointed with his side's performance despite emerging victorious against Melbourne Heart at AAMI Park on Friday night.

Stein Huysegems' 75th-minute strike was the difference between the two sides but the Phoenix were second-best throughout, according to coach Merrick.

Now six points clear of the bottom-placed Heart, Merrick intimated that his team's target was still to qualify the finals despite a slow start to the season.

"I don't think we played our best tonight, in fact I think we have played better and lost," Merrick said.

"But we are beginning to learn what it takes to win games and it's not always pretty football.

"There is 40-odd points to play for and it's about making the top six and the players set that goal.

"They are the ones that decided that they want to play finals and are going to go all out to do that."

The Phoenix grabbed their first victory of their A-League campaign last week against Sydney FC and even though they picked up their second win in a row, Merrick believes there is still room for improvement from his side.

"I just felt we didn't get our passing game going that we have been working on since day one," he said.

"But when we got it going I thought we created some really good chances which were inside the penalty box whereas Heart also created chances but a lot of them were from crosses and we handled that much better in the second half.

"I really feel for John Aloisi because I thought John's team was the better team tonight.

"But you can look at the statistics you like but the bottom line is who scores the most goals and we managed to get one up on them."

Merrick also praised New Zealand international striker Jeremy Brockie, who squandered three gilt-edged chances against Heart.

"The good thing about Jeremy today is that fairly or unfairly, strikers are judged by the number of goals they score and sometimes they do a lot more than that," he added.

"I thought that today Jeremy showed he was prepared to work really hard to get into goal-scoring positions and it's probably the best positions he has been in."

The Phoenix face a short road trip turnaround as they travel to Pirtek Stadium to face reigning Premiers the Western Sydney Wanderers on New Years Day.