Jason Pine is Radio Sport's football commentator

Football: Main goal is to score some goals

Roy Krishna of the Phoenix. Photo / Getty Images
Roy Krishna of the Phoenix. Photo / Getty Images

The stats show the Phoenix have at least been improving this season if not winning or even scoring, according to coach Ernie Merrick.

Now the Wellington club just needs the most impressive attacking roster in their 10-year history to start putting the ball in the net to get them off the bottom of the A-League.

But that will not be easy as the Phoenix attempt to beat the Victory tomorrow in Melbourne, a city where they have a particularly poor record.

They have won just once in 14 visits to the Victory, losing 10 times, with three draws.

But despite failing to earn a point or even score a goal in their first three games, it's not all doom and gloom for Merrick's men. They were the better side for large parts of their last game against league leaders Sydney FC a week ago before conceding an injury-time goal.

Midfielder Michael McGlinchey believes they were the dominant side against the Sky Blues. "I think they'd even say that," said McGlinchey. "We were unfortunate with two offside calls that went against us.

We're still creating the chances, we're still getting in behind and we're still doing what we need to be doing. We just need that little bit of luck and I'm sure we'll get it."

Merrick has been crunching the numbers and using them to demonstrate to his team the improvement in their performances.

"I showed them the stats from the first [three games]," he said. "The amount of possession has gone from 45 to 60 per cent. The number of passes has gone from 322 in the first game to 440. The amount of successful passing in the front half has improved each week. We didn't get the goals; that will certainly finish things off.

"We have to build on that performance from last week. I thought it was outstanding - first-class pressure, good positional play, good front-half football and lots of opportunities in the 18-yard box."

Victory haven't been their normal dominant selves this season. A scratchy first-up draw with Brisbane was followed by a 4-1 hammering in the Melbourne derby. They then had Marco Rojas to thank for their first win of the season last Saturday, with the All White scoring in the final minute to give them a 2-1 win at Adelaide.

The A-League isn't won or lost in October. Defending champions Adelaide were winless through their first eight games of last season and a distant last heading into December before storming up the table with a 14-game unbeaten run.

Merrick is likely to make only one change to his starting eleven, with left back Tom Doyle, ruled out with a hamstring niggle, to be replaced by Adam Parkhouse. Victory will be without captain Carl Valeri but could welcome back attacker James Troisi after collarbone surgery.

- Herald on Sunday

Get the news delivered straight to your inbox

Receive the day’s news, sport and entertainment in our daily email newsletter

SIGN UP NOW

© Copyright 2016, NZME. Publishing Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production apcf03 at 04 Dec 2016 22:05:39 Processing Time: 629ms