13 Oct 2015

Phoenix coach says goal-scoring a weakness

11:58 am on 13 October 2015

The Wellington Phoenix football coach Ernie Merrick concedes his side are "not good at scoring goals".

Ernie Merrick

Ernie Merrick Photo: Photosport

The A-League club were upset 2-1 by last season's bottom side the Newcastle Jets in their season opener in Wellington on Sunday night.

The much-travelled Socceroo David Carney headed the opener and set up Milos Trifunovic's 71st minute winner for the Jets, who won only three times in 27 matches last term.

The Jets have struggled since winning the A-League in 2008 - when Phoenix captain Andrew Durante was with the team.

But they showed plenty of character to stand firm and close out the win when skipper Nigel Boogaard was sent off with 10 minutes remaining.

Merrick was left to rue a host of missed chances at Westpac Stadium.

"I wasn't disappointed by our team performance, I thought we were outstanding," Merrick said. "I mean the stats speak for themselves; we had 300-odd passes in their back half, we were attacking non-stop, we had 82 (percent) pass rate, we had twice as many shots. I think we had 45 crosses, we're just not good at scoring goals, especially from penalty kicks or from crosses."

The victory took the Jets joint top of the table with the Central Coast Mariners, who belied their wooden spoon favourites tag by beating Perth Glory 3-2 on Saturday.

Financially stricken Brisbane will be buoyant after they opened proceedings on Thursday with a 3-1 win at former AFC Champions League winners Western Sydney Wanderers.

It was a first victory for new coach John Aloisi, back in management after his sacking by Melbourne Heart a year-and-a-half ago.

Defending champions Melbourne Victory were held to a disappointing goalless draw by Adelaide United on Friday night, with top marksman Besart Berisha guilty of spurning some good chances.

The Victory, like many of the other leading A-League outfits, were without a number of their leading Australian players who were with the national team for the World Cup qualifying defeat by Jordan on Thursday.

Cross-town rivals Melbourne City, backed by the wealthy owners of Manchester City, also failed to grab an opening win as they were held to a 1-1 draw by last year's runners-up Sydney FC on Saturday.

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