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Merrick praises new-look strike force

January 01, 2015 09:42:41 UK

Ernie Merrick heaped praise on his makeshift forward line.

Ernie Merrick said his makeshift Wellington Phoenix strike force had shown him in training they were ready to take their chance in the 3-1 victory over Adelaide United.

The Phoenix, who are 8.00 to win the Grand Final, were forced to go to Coopers Stadium without the two players who have combined for 15 goals this season, with both Nathan Burns and Roy Krishna unavailable.

Merrick opted to go with Kenny Cunningham and Jeremy Brockie as starters and bring Tyler Boyd on in the second half, with all three playing their part in a win that lifted the Phoenix into third spot.

At training they’ve been showing they can score goals consistently and they were just waiting on their chances. Tyler took his chances really well and Kenny scored.

Ernie Merrick

Brockie set up Cunningham for the opening goal after 54 minutes while Boyd came off the bench to score two goals that settled the match.

It means Wellington, who finished next to bottom last season, have already passed that campaign’s win tally with their eighth of 2014-15 – the success against the Reds was their third in a row.

Merrick said: “Tyler, Kenny and Jeremy are all starting for the first time really – Tyler didn’t start but it was his first run for a while.

“But at training they’ve been showing they can score goals consistently and they were just waiting on their chances. Tyler took his chances really well and Kenny scored.”

Wellington ended 2014 as the league’s most in-form team. Successive away wins have seen them overtake first Sydney FC and now Adelaide in the table to sit just four points off leaders Perth Glory.

United were without a number of key players, but coach Josep Gombau expects the likes of Fabio Ferreira, Tarek Elrich, Nigel Boogaard and Marcelo Carrusca to be available for Monday’s trip to Perth.

He said after the match: “I am satisfied with the way that we played and I think we deserved to win with the way that we played. But we made mistakes that bring to them the chances to score the first and the second goal.”

Wellington Phoenix are 2.25 to win their next match against Brisbane Roar, who are 3.10 with the draw 3.40.

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