Ernie Merrick says the abandonment of the Hyundai A-League encounter between his Wellington side and the Brisbane Roar took some of the gloss of the Phoenix’s 2-1 win.
Due to torrential rain in Brisbane, the match was called off in the 73rd minute, with the three points handed to Wellington, who were leading 2-1 at the time thanks to goals from Michael McGlinchey and Nathan Burns.
The victory was the Phoenix’s first ever over the Roar at Suncorp Stadium, and though Merrick believed his players had done enough to deserve it, he said the atmosphere in the dressing room was a strange one.
“The boys aren’t celebrating.
“They do a team song after every win, there was no celebration.
“They understand, it’s a tough way to win a game, those are the rules though.”
Merrick said he had never experienced a situation before where the game was called off but the result stood.
“30 years of coaching, 200 A-League games, it was controversial, but they’re the rules,” he said.
“I don’t think anyone is happy but the weather is quite incredible.
“It’s a bit like Scotland, only it’s more horizontal in Scotland and a bit colder.”
The Scotland-born manager praised the performance of his men, who now sit four points clear at the top of the A-League table.
“I think we were playing good football.
“We were up 2-1 coming from a 1-0 down and really Roy (Krishna) should have put his chance away one-on-one with the goalkeeper, then Mikey McGlinchey from a great cross from (Roly) Bonevacia from a free kick, it was really a tap-in and he managed to hit the far post.
“I thought we were on top and as the weather deteriorated I just put on another midfielder, we were just losing the ball in midfield, both teams were, so I went with a 4-4-1-1 and we were hoping to catch Roar on the break.”
Burns was especially impressive in setting up the first Wellington goal with a weaving run, before tapping in for the second, and Merrick said he is deserving of his place in Ange Postecoglou’s squad.
“Nathan is becoming an even better player than I thought.
“I’ve just taken him off the wing and allowed him a lot of freedom up front. He doesn’t have to do a lot of defensive work and one-on-one I think he could take just about anyone apart in this competition.
“He’s beginning to take on two a bit too often, but he’s going past players and once you’ve got a player doing that then it frees up a lot of other strikers.
“He’s now getting on a plane to fly over to Germany and it’s a credit to him for what he’s done.”