Merrick puts faith in Phoenix pacemen

Wellington Phoenix coach Ernie Merrick has pinpointed speed in the attacking third as the main reason for his side’s 4-1 drubbing of the Newcastle Jets in Wellington.

New recruits Nathan Burns and Michael McGlinchey shared the first three goals before skipper Andrew Durante put the seal on the win with the last action of the game.

“I’m a great believer in pace up front” said Merrick. 

“I’ve always had it at my previous clubs. We’ve recruited a lot of pace, especially up front. Michael and Nathan have really made a huge difference. We’ve also got more pace to come in with Tyler Boyd, Roy Krishna and Kenny Cunningham.

Merrick was also pleased with his side’s ruthlessness against a Jets side playing its third straight away game.

“I was impressed the boys didn’t sit back at 2-0 up. They wanted to keep going and press for more goals. 

"We got a third and it was great to see them going all the way to the end for the fourth goal. (Newcastle) had their chances as well but I thought the boys played really good football and there wasn’t a bad player on the park.

Burns celebrated his 50th A-League game with a brace against his former club and couldn’t be happier with the result.

“It’s always good to get on the scoresheet, so to get a double today – I’m very happy with that," Burns said.

"We scored four goals so the boys are full of confidence now heading into a tough match.”

After just two goals in 12 matches for the Jets last season, Burns has already surpassed that tally three games into the new A-League campaign.

“It’s probably just a slightly different role I’m playing here. I’m playing higher up the field and direct in on goal, whereas before I was playing wide and getting crosses in. I was a lot deeper before, but now I’m finding myself in a lot more attacking positions.”

Despite the disappointment of not being able to keep a clean sheet, Merrick was pleased with his side’s reaction to Joel Griffiths’ late header for the Jets.

“After the disappointment of conceding we’ve been working on switching on again straight away, so you’ve got to switch back on to your attacking role and transition defence to attack, Merrick added.

"They didn’t dwell on (conceding) and to get the goal in the final minute was almost worth conceding for, because we proved to ourselves that we can go down the other end and score another one."