Melbourne City coach John van’t Schip has been left frustrated after watching his side lose 2-1 to the Phoenix in Wellington.
In particular, the City mentor was visibly frustrated during and after the game by the performance of referee Matt Conger.
“If you look back on the game everyone will see very clearly we didn’t get anything awarded from the ref,” said van’t Schip afterwards.
“With Bruno (Fornaroli), they could hang on him, push him, kick him – I could go on – but that was the frustration. Not taking away that we didn’t have a good start, but we didn’t get help from the ref.”
Van’t Schip also believed his side was denied a first-half penalty when Phoenix skipper Andrew Durante came together with Fornaroli in the penalty area.
“For me, it looked clear-cut. His feet got kicked away and (Durante) didn’t get any contact with the ball, or if he did, he first made contact with Bruno. (The ref) was clearly on top of it, but didn’t give it.”
But van’t Schip conceded his side was slow out of the blocks on a blustery evening in New Zealand’s capital, falling 2-0 behind inside fifteen minutes.
“I’m disappointed with the start of the game,” he said.
“We came back into the game but we were already 2-0 down. We kept pressure on Wellington, we had a lot of corners and free-kicks and what I thought was a penalty, but in the end it wasn’t enough. After a poor start like that you have to fight back into a game and you know it’s always going to be difficult.”
“(We) were not prepared and ready for that first part. Wellington dealt with the wind in a better way, reacted quicker and we were a step behind that. By the time we woke up, we were 2-0 behind,” said van’t Schip.
A win would have taken Melbourne City to the top of the Hyundai A-League ladder for the first time ever, but van’t Schip accepted his side still has work to do if they’re to challenge for silverware this season.
“If we want to become that team, we’re still not there. We have to improve and get better and make sure that we can be there at the end, but this is of course not what we wanted,” he said.
Melbourne City host Sydney FC next Friday night.