Okon: Phoenix loss worst performance so far

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Central Coast Mariners coach Paul Okon has blasted his side following Saturday afternoon’s 2-0 loss to the Wellington Phoenix in Canberra.

Okon’s side went into the break having looked dangerous but collapsed in a 15-minute period thanks to goals from Phoenix duo Roy Krishna and Hamish Watson.

The rookie coach didn’t hold back when asked how he thought his side played.

“Our performance today wasn’t great,” said Okon “it was probably the worst performance so far this season.

“Tonight wasn’t at the level we expect and it needs to be better next week.”

Okon was left bemused by his side’s poor showing having come off a brilliant away win against Adelaide United and facing a Wellington side depleted due to international commitments.

“We knew that before the game and I don’t think at all we were complacent or took that lightly.”

“I think we were just slow out of the blocks.”

“We didn’t really move and offer support when we had the ball which made it easier for Wellington to press us.”

Phoenix coach Ernie Merrick, who brought up a century of wins in the A-League, was full of praise for his undermanned side.

“To have so many inexperienced players come into the team at once and I know we prepared for it pre-season but it’s still a lot of pressure away from home, I thought the boys did a great job,” Merrick said post-game.

The veteran coach revealed the plan had been to absorb pressure and try and hit their opponent with “fast-breaking”.

It proved effective as both Phoenix goals involved deep runs from the speedy Roy Krishna, leaving the Mariners’ defence all at sea.

“Hamish did really well and Roy was on fire upfront and his pace is incredible,” explained Merrick.

“We knew that so we set up for a counter-attacking game.”

Ultimately, however, the defensive display was what earned the Phoenix a precious three points.

“Our defence though I thought that was where the real inexperience was.

“We were rock-solid, I thought [Ryan] Lowry was quite outstanding.”

The Mariners meanwhile must pick themselves up and go again against Newcastle Jets next week and Okon said the team must get back to the basics.

“We’ll go home and look at it and see exactly where we weren’t good, hopefully learn from it, work on it during the week and then focus in on our next game which if the F3 Derby, another important game.”

The game in Canberra was the first of two that the Mariners will take to their home away from home.

When asked if the small crowd of 5,497 was disappointing, Okon grimly replied he didn’t think they “gave the crowd anything to get excited about”.

Central Coast defender Scott Galloway came off after 24 minutes suffering from a knock but Okon was hopeful he would be right for next week.

“It’s nothing serious but again we probably really won’t know until it settles down over the next 48 hours.”

Wellington meanwhile will face Melbourne Victory at home next week.

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Dominic Unwin
Third year Sports Media student at the University of Canberra. Interests include sports history and stats...you know, all the fun stuff.

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