Ernie’s missing links

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Off the back of a season where at times it seemed Ernie Merrick and the Wellington Phoenix couldn’t buy a win, the last thing fans would want to see from the side was more of the same at the start of the new season.

But following last night’s 1-0 loss to a ten man Melbourne City side, one could be forgiven for thinking they were watching a replay from last year.

Squandered chances and poor decision making marred a significantly improved second half by the Nix. They now have to head to Perth with nothing to take from their opening fixture but a hope that the returning All Whites will add some much needed steel to what was a lackluster performance.

The defense was found wanting on multiple occasions in the first half, and were it not for a standout performance by Glen Moss in goal, the game could well have been dead and buried by half time.

The combination of Bruce Kamau and captain Bruno Fornaroli broke through the ‘Nix defence with consulate ease in the first half, proving too much for the out of place Adam Parkhouse, who was at sixes and sevens in his unfamiliar left back role.

“I was really impressed with Adam Parkhouse”, Merrick said in his post-match conference.

How Ernie managed to find positives in his performance we will never know, but we can be rest assured he doesn’t see him as a long term option in the left back position.

“If I had Tom [Doyle] tonight, I would have put him on and put Adam up front because he gets forward [with] his pace, he is a good dribbler.”

“I think we have snared a great player in him.”

Parkhouse, who won the New South Wales NPL Player of the Year award for his final season at Manly United, was signed by Merrick as a striking option.

Understandable as it is then that his positional inexperience in the defensive third left much to be desired.

It is in this that the Yellow Fever can hope that with the returning All Whites arriving later in the week, we will see a much changed and improved line up at NIB Stadium.

Kosta Barbarouses’ second debut for the club is sure to add some bite in the attacking third, a point Merrick was quick to stress post-match.

“We let ourselves down by not cashing in on one of those crosses… we definitely missed Kosta.”

“Kosta and Roy are a real handful [as a duo]. When it’s just Roy they can double up on him.”

Time will tell whether the returning players are the missing links this Phoenix team sorely needed last night.

But right now you can’t help but feel this isn’t the Phoenix team Ernie wanted to play.

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