Tentative Phoenix upset Merrick

Wellington Phoenix coach Ernie Merrick says his side’s inability to deal with Melbourne City’s suffocating style was the reason behind their premature exit from the A-League finals.

Phoenix were dumped out 2-0 by City on Sunday as Josh Kennedy and an own goal from ‘keeper Glen Moss in the second half settled a tight elimination final at Westpac Stadium.

“I felt it was a very difficult game to go out in. I don’t think we showed what we can do at all,” a disappointed Merrick said.

“To Melbourne City’s credit they put us under a lot of pressure and they closed down our midfield.

“In the second half I thought as long as its 1-0 down we’re in with a chance but nothing seemed to be going for us, our chances on goals were pretty well blocked.

“Melbourne City came here with the right attitude, they competed all over the park, they pressed us and stopped our midfield.

“Nathan Burns really is our most experienced striker and they had two men on him and he never got his shots on target.”

It’s a heartbreaking way for Phoenix to end a campaign that promised so much.

A little over a month ago they were atop the A-League ladder but one win from their last five matches meant they finished fourth.

While they were ultimately sent packing in the first week of the finals, Merrick believes the season won’t be remembered as a waste.

“We started off the league second bottom last year,” he said.

“We’re really disappointed we didn’t finish in the top two. We finished in the top four.

“Our success will be judged by other people.

“Everyone’s disappointed. All year we’ve been about keeping the ball, about going forward and it was just all very tentative."