Merrick Boyd as young gun steps up

Wellington Phoenix coach Ernie Merrick refused to be drawn on Josep Gombau's actions during a second-half sideline stoush in Wednesday's emphatic 3-1 triumph over Adelaide United at Coopers Stadium.


Merrick defended Manny Muscat, whose forceful contact with Pablo Sanchez earned the experienced defender a yellow card and sparked the ugly but brief 75th-minute fracas.

Wellington regrouped and refocused after the incident, with substitute Tyler Boyd, a day after his 20th birthday, scoring twice.

"No comment to make on that," Merrick said when asked about the Reds’ coach making a beeline for the Wellington bench to remonstrate with the visitors.

"To me, it (Sanchez contact) looked like Manny was shielding the ball.

"I don't think it was (deserving of) a yellow card.

"We just got on with the game after that. I think it (melee) worked in our favour.

"We've hardly got yellow cards this year. The discipline has been very good and it's paying off for us."

Gombau complained post-match of a lack of an adequate bench and being too close to the on-field action but Merrick disagreed.

"I've got no problems with the barbecue chairs being that close to the white line - it doesn't bother me at all," he said.

"I'd rather be closer to the pitch than closer to the crowd.

"Didn't one of our coaches have a glass of beer thrown over him once ... you've got a strange tradition, in New Zealand and Scotland we actually drink the stuff."

Merrick was also at odds with Gombau's decision to drag young goalkeeper Paul Izzo out of his area and into attack for the Reds' last corner, deep into second-half stoppage time.

The ploy backfired when Boyd slotted one past the out-of-position Izzo in the dying seconds of the match.

"I thought it was a bit premature to push the goalkeeper forward for set plays, but I was very happy that they did,” Merrick said.

While United were without key players such as Eugene Galekovic and Marcelo Carrusca, the Phoenix were similarly undermanned missing lethal strike duo Nathan Burns to the Socceroos  and Roy Krishna to a hamstring injury. The two have combined for 15 of Wellington's 22 goals this season.

Stepping up admirably were goal-scoring forwards Boyd, with a brace and Kenny Cunningham with the opener - Merrick always confident his club possessed the forward depth to cover the key absences.

"With Roy Krishna and Nathan Burns out, we knew we had firepower and it was just a case of whether they (Boyd and Cunningham) could translate their training performance to match performance,” he said.

“Tyler took his chances really well, Kenny scored.

"When Adelaide scored to get back into the game it was good that we scored within four minutes. That's something we've been working on.

"It was exciting right to the dying minutes."