Wellington Phoenix coach Ricki Herbert blames poor defending for their 3-2 loss to Melbourne Victory at Etihad Stadium on Monday night.
In Melbourne, Herbert had to watch one of the Phoenix's worst 45 minutes, although his side did show some resolve in the final 30 minutes.
Trailing 3-0, the Phoenix picked up two consolation goals from Jeremy Brockie, the first a stunning curling left-foot strike from outside the penalty area.
"I was disappointed with some hesitant defending in the first half and you can't give teams a three-goal start on their home ground," Herbert said.
"It's a tough period for us with four out of five games away from home, but we have to just get on with it and perform better than we did in those first 60 minutes."
Herbert praised early second-half substitutes Tyler Boyd and Solomon Islands international Benjamin Totori for sparking up the performance.
Boyd replaced Paul Ifill, while Totori took over from Stein Huysegems, who injured an ankle in a heavy tackle early in the game.
"They certainly made a difference when they went on," Herbert said.
"Along with Vince Lia [who replaced Louis Fenton] they added something that had been missing in the first 60 minutes."
The Phoenix have slipped to eighth place, seven points behind pacesetters Adelaide United. They returned home yesterday and will host Central Coast on Sunday.
How will the Phoenix go in 2013-14?Related story: Wellington Phoenix off-season scorecard