Life after Ernie as Phoenix cruise past Mariners

FSG Stadium in Hamilton was the venue as Wellington Phoenix defeated Central Coast Mariners 3-0 in their first game without former coach Ernie Merrick.

It has been a week of uncertainty for the side, interim coach Chris Greenacre highlighting the team’s desire for a positive response following Merrick’s resignation.

And it couldn’t have started better for the ‘Nix.

Kosta Barbarouses drove at the defence in the opening minutes, his shot deflecting off compatriot Hamish Watson on its way into the back of the net.

Barbarouses looked in the mood early after coming under fire for a string of poor performances in recent weeks. His cross-come-shot had goalkeeper Ivan Necevski reeling in the 15th minute.

Roy Krishna was next to be set free on goal, his shot hitting the side netting when a pass across goal looked the better option.

The Mariners struggled to create chances in the first half despite a plethora of possession.

And their luck turned from bad to worse on the 37th minute mark, captain Storm Roux succumbing to an ankle injury that fans will hope won’t force him out for long.

It stayed 1-0 before the break, with Glen Moss not in the least bit troubled.

The Phoenix again started strongly in the second half, looking to counter at every opportunity.

Though limited in terms of possession, the attacking three of the Phoenix had no trouble finding space in between the lines of the Mariners defence.

Jacob Tratt continued his impressive start to his A-League career, playing in Hamish Watson, the post saving Central Coast’s blushes.

Their performance warranted a second goal, and it came in stunning fashion.

Vince Lia gathered the ball following a freekick, his shot sailing into the top corner in stunning fashion for just his fourth A-League goal to make it 2-0.

It was an inspiring moment and the ‘Nix responded appropriately, flooding forward at every opportunity.

Hamish Watson functioned very well with mainstays Barbarouses and Roy Krishna and fans can expect to see more of this combination in the following weeks.

A third was added in stoppage time as Roy Krishna tapped home following a sharp break forward by Barbarouses, his sixth goal of the season.

That’s how it stayed in Hamilton, the Phoenix cruising to a 3-0 victory and their third victory of the season, marking a positive start to life after Ernie Merrick.

Wellington Phoenix now head to Auckland to face Western Sydney Wanderers. As for Central Coast Mariners, they make the trip back to Gosford where they will face Brisbane Roar next week.

Wellington Phoenix 3 (Waton 2′, Lia 66′, Krishna 90’+4)
Central Coast Mariners 0

Referee:  Matthew Conger
Assistant Referees:  Simon Lount and Mark Rule

Stadium: FSG Stadium, Hamilton

Wellington Phoenix: 1. MOSS, Glen (GK), 2. TRATT, Jacob, 4. BONEVACIA, Rolieny, 7. FINKLER, Guilherme, 9. BARBAROUSES, Kosta, 11. WATSON, Hamish 12. PARKHOUSE, Adam 13. ROSSI, Michael, 17. LIA, Vince 21. KRISHNA, Roy 22. DURANTE, Andrew (C)
Substitutes: 5. LOWRY, Ryan, 8. RODRIGUEZ 11. WATSON, Hamish, 16. FENTON, Louis, 20. ITALIANO, Lewis, 23. RIDENTON, Matthew

Central Coast Mariners: 1. NECEVSKI, Ivan 2. ROUX, Storm (C) 3. GALLOWAY, Scott 5. ASCROFT, Harry 6. POWELL, Blake 7. FERREIRA, Fabio 9. O’DONOVAN, Roy 11. PAIN, Connor 14. BERRY, Adam 16. ROSE, Liam 22. MCGING Jake
Substitutes: 20. IZZO, Paul 12. BUHAGIAR, Trent 13. APPIAH , 17. BINGHAM, Josh 21. NEILL, Michael 25. PETERSON

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