Phoenix repay Merrick's faith with 5 of the best

Wellington Phoenix players huddle together before their clash with Adelaide United at Westpac Stadium.
Wellington Phoenix players huddle together before their clash with Adelaide United at Westpac Stadium.
Ben Sigmund of the Phoenix, right, and Michael Zullo of Adelaide clash for the ball.
Ben Sigmund of the Phoenix, right, and Michael Zullo of Adelaide clash for the ball.
Phoenix player Tyler Boyd goes down under a challenge from Adelaide's Bruce Djite.
Phoenix player Tyler Boyd goes down under a challenge from Adelaide's Bruce Djite.
Shaun Timmins of the Phoenix gets a yellow card after a poor tackle on Adelaide's Marcelo Carrusca.
Shaun Timmins of the Phoenix gets a yellow card after a poor tackle on Adelaide's Marcelo Carrusca.
Ben Sigmund is shown a red card by referee Ben Williams against the Melbourne Heart after his second bookable offence.
Ben Sigmund is shown a red card by referee Ben Williams against the Melbourne Heart after his second bookable offence.
Ben Sigmund challenges Harry Kewell for the ball, which lead to his second yellow card.
Ben Sigmund challenges Harry Kewell for the ball, which lead to his second yellow card.
Phoenix players appeal for leniency as referee Ben Williams flashes another yellow card.
Phoenix players appeal for leniency as referee Ben Williams flashes another yellow card.
Manny Muscat turns and chases the Melbourne Heart's Iain Ramsey.
Manny Muscat turns and chases the Melbourne Heart's Iain Ramsey.
Wellington Phoenix's Roy Krishna on the attack against Perth Glory.
Wellington Phoenix's Roy Krishna on the attack against Perth Glory.
Phoenix fans react to a near miss for their team against Perth Glory.
Phoenix fans react to a near miss for their team against Perth Glory.
Wellington Phoenix's Kenny Cunningham gets the ball under control against Perth Glory at Westpac Stadium.
Wellington Phoenix's Kenny Cunningham gets the ball under control against Perth Glory at Westpac Stadium.
Vince Lia of the Phoenix beats the defence of Chris Harold of the Glory.
Vince Lia of the Phoenix beats the defence of Chris Harold of the Glory.
Phoenix defender Michael Boxall challenges Adelaide's Awer Mabil for the ball at Cooper's Stadium.
Phoenix defender Michael Boxall challenges Adelaide's Awer Mabil for the ball at Cooper's Stadium.
Ben Sigmund is talked to by referee Lucien Laverdure during the Phoenix's loss in Adelaide.
Ben Sigmund is talked to by referee Lucien Laverdure during the Phoenix's loss in Adelaide.
Manny Muscat turns and chases a through-ball by Adelaide.
Manny Muscat turns and chases a through-ball by Adelaide.
Phoenix keeper Glen Moss checks on the health of Adelaide striker Jeronimo Neumann.
Phoenix keeper Glen Moss checks on the health of Adelaide striker Jeronimo Neumann.
Jeremy Brockie rushes to celebrate his goal with Stein Huysegems (right) and Reece Caira.
Jeremy Brockie rushes to celebrate his goal with Stein Huysegems (right) and Reece Caira.
Kenny Cunningham celebrates his goal against the Mariners.
Kenny Cunningham celebrates his goal against the Mariners.
Phoenix keeper Glen Moss makes a save off the line against Central Coast.
Phoenix keeper Glen Moss makes a save off the line against Central Coast.
Manny Muscat roars with delight after a Wellington Phoenix goal in Gosford.
Manny Muscat roars with delight after a Wellington Phoenix goal in Gosford.
Referee Alan Milliner warns Phoenix striker Kenny Cunningham.
Referee Alan Milliner warns Phoenix striker Kenny Cunningham.
The Wellington Phoenix wall remains resolute against the Heart.
The Wellington Phoenix wall remains resolute against the Heart.
Phoenix keeper Glen Moss had a rough outing against the Melbourne Heart.
Phoenix keeper Glen Moss had a rough outing against the Melbourne Heart.
Still plenty of empty yellow seats were around as the Wellington Phoenix drew one of their best home crowds against the Heart.
Still plenty of empty yellow seats were around as the Wellington Phoenix drew one of their best home crowds against the Heart.
Striker Stein Huysegems carries the ball forward into the Heart of Melbourne's defence.
Striker Stein Huysegems carries the ball forward into the Heart of Melbourne's defence.
The Wellington Phoenix wall protects themselves before a free-kick.
The Wellington Phoenix wall protects themselves before a free-kick.
Ben Sigmund in action for the Phoenix against the Jets in Newcastle.
Ben Sigmund in action for the Phoenix against the Jets in Newcastle.
Emmanuel Muscat of the Phoenix falls to the ground in Newcastle.
Emmanuel Muscat of the Phoenix falls to the ground in Newcastle.
Stein Huysegems of the Phoenix feels the heat of the Newcastle sun.
Stein Huysegems of the Phoenix feels the heat of the Newcastle sun.
Ernie Merrick thanks the fans after the Phoenix's win over Adelaide at Eden Park.
Ernie Merrick thanks the fans after the Phoenix's win over Adelaide at Eden Park.
Emmanuel Muscat and Andrew Durante shake hands at the end of the Phonenix's victory over Adelaide.
Emmanuel Muscat and Andrew Durante shake hands at the end of the Phonenix's victory over Adelaide.
Young Wellington Phoenix fans enjoying the day out at Eden Park.
Young Wellington Phoenix fans enjoying the day out at Eden Park.
Carlos Hernandex of the Phoenix, right, is tackled by Tarek Elrich of Adelaide.
Carlos Hernandex of the Phoenix, right, is tackled by Tarek Elrich of Adelaide.
Goalkeeper Michael Theo of the Roar clears the ball the the Phoenix on the attack in Brisbane.
Goalkeeper Michael Theo of the Roar clears the ball the the Phoenix on the attack in Brisbane.
Devante Clut of the Roar competes for the ball with Albert Riera.
Devante Clut of the Roar competes for the ball with Albert Riera.
Manny Muscat (left) and Stein Huysegems celebrate after the win over Melbourne Victory.
Manny Muscat (left) and Stein Huysegems celebrate after the win over Melbourne Victory.
Stein Huysegems is congratulated by his team mates after scoring against Melbourne Victory.
Stein Huysegems is congratulated by his team mates after scoring against Melbourne Victory.
Kenny Cunningham looks skyward after scoring against the Mlebourne Victory.
Kenny Cunningham looks skyward after scoring against the Mlebourne Victory.
Jesse Makarounas of the Victory and Albert Riera of the Phoenix compete for the ball.
Jesse Makarounas of the Victory and Albert Riera of the Phoenix compete for the ball.
Kenny Cunningham of the Phoenix controls the ball during the round 13 A-League match between the Western Sydney Wanderers and Wellington Phoenix at Parramatta Stadium.
Kenny Cunningham of the Phoenix controls the ball during the round 13 A-League match between the Western Sydney Wanderers and Wellington Phoenix at Parramatta Stadium.
Andrew Durante of the Phoenix huddles with his team-mates after the round 13 A-League match between the Western Sydney Wanderers and Wellington Phoenix at Parramatta Stadium.
Andrew Durante of the Phoenix huddles with his team-mates after the round 13 A-League match between the Western Sydney Wanderers and Wellington Phoenix at Parramatta Stadium.
Wellington Phoenix players huddle after the round 13 A-League match between the Western Sydney Wanderers and Wellington Phoenix at Parramatta Stadium.
Wellington Phoenix players huddle after the round 13 A-League match between the Western Sydney Wanderers and Wellington Phoenix at Parramatta Stadium.
Nikolai Topor-Stanley of the Wanderers competes with Jeremy Brockie of the Phoenix during the round 13 A-League match between the Western Sydney Wanderers and Wellington Phoenix at Parramatta Stadium.
Nikolai Topor-Stanley of the Wanderers competes with Jeremy Brockie of the Phoenix during the round 13 A-League match between the Western Sydney Wanderers and Wellington Phoenix at Parramatta Stadium.
Stein Huysegems is sandwiched by Leo Bertos and Tyler Boyd after his goal.
Stein Huysegems is sandwiched by Leo Bertos and Tyler Boyd after his goal.
Albert Riera slides in but misses the tackle on Michael Mifsud.
Albert Riera slides in but misses the tackle on Michael Mifsud.
Ben Sigmund leaps over Michael Mifsud to head the ball away.
Ben Sigmund leaps over Michael Mifsud to head the ball away.
Stein Huysegems celebrates with Tyler Boyd after his 75th minute match-winning goal against the Heart.
Stein Huysegems celebrates with Tyler Boyd after his 75th minute match-winning goal against the Heart.
Andrew Durante is shown a yellow card by referee Strebre Delovski.
Andrew Durante is shown a yellow card by referee Strebre Delovski.
Louis Fenton leaps to head the ball away as Albert Riera watches.
Louis Fenton leaps to head the ball away as Albert Riera watches.
Paul Ifill takes out the legs of Steven McGarry.
Paul Ifill takes out the legs of Steven McGarry.
Ben Sigmund (right) battles with Michael Thwaite as they await a cross.
Ben Sigmund (right) battles with Michael Thwaite as they await a cross.
Stein Huysegems (centre) celebrates his 36th minute goal with team-mates.
Stein Huysegems (centre) celebrates his 36th minute goal with team-mates.
Andrew Durante competes for the ball with Perth's Ryan Edwards.
Andrew Durante competes for the ball with Perth's Ryan Edwards.
Jeremy Brockie plays the ball on a side-foot volley.
Jeremy Brockie plays the ball on a side-foot volley.
Carlos Hernandez and Jeremy Brockie try to convince referee Alan Millier.
Carlos Hernandez and Jeremy Brockie try to convince referee Alan Millier.
Wellington Phoenix fans watch on as the Perth Glory attack.
Wellington Phoenix fans watch on as the Perth Glory attack.
The Wellington Phoenix interacts with young fans in Christchurch.
The Wellington Phoenix interacts with young fans in Christchurch.
Phoenix midfielder Vince Lia gets mocked by Perth's Steve Pantelides and Jacob Burns.
Phoenix midfielder Vince Lia gets mocked by Perth's Steve Pantelides and Jacob Burns.
Carlos Hernandez kicks a corner for the Phoenix against Melbourne Victory at Etihad Stadium.
Carlos Hernandez kicks a corner for the Phoenix against Melbourne Victory at Etihad Stadium.
James Troisi of the Victory gets past Andrew Durante in Melbourne.
James Troisi of the Victory gets past Andrew Durante in Melbourne.
Louis Fenton of the Phoenix and Archie Thompson of the Victory contest for the ball.
Louis Fenton of the Phoenix and Archie Thompson of the Victory contest for the ball.
Reece Caira encounters a feathered opponent at Etihad Stadium in Melbourne.
Reece Caira encounters a feathered opponent at Etihad Stadium in Melbourne.
Ben Sigmund and Ruben Zadkovich compete for the ball.
Ben Sigmund and Ruben Zadkovich compete for the ball.
Jeremy Brockie breaks away from Andrew Hoole.
Jeremy Brockie breaks away from Andrew Hoole.
Manny Muscat is tackled by Josh Brillante of the Newcastle Jets.
Manny Muscat is tackled by Josh Brillante of the Newcastle Jets.
Phoenix fans were out in force at the home game away from home in Napier.
Phoenix fans were out in force at the home game away from home in Napier.
Wellington Phoenix players celebrate after Jeremy Brockie scored the equalising goal against Western Sydney Wanderers.
Wellington Phoenix players celebrate after Jeremy Brockie scored the equalising goal against Western Sydney Wanderers.
Jeremy Brockie celebrates after scoring the equalising goal against Western Sydney Wanderers.
Jeremy Brockie celebrates after scoring the equalising goal against Western Sydney Wanderers.
Manny Muscat (right) of the Phoenix appeals to the referee after a heavy clash with Aaron Mooy of the Wanderers.
Manny Muscat (right) of the Phoenix appeals to the referee after a heavy clash with Aaron Mooy of the Wanderers.
Carlos Hernandez (right) competes with Mateo Poljak of the Western Sydney Wanderers for the ball.
Carlos Hernandez (right) competes with Mateo Poljak of the Western Sydney Wanderers for the ball.
Fans show their support for the Wellington Phoenix at the opening game of the season.
Fans show their support for the Wellington Phoenix at the opening game of the season.
Steyn Huysegems celebrates after scoring the opening goal of the season for Wellington Phoenix.
Steyn Huysegems celebrates after scoring the opening goal of the season for Wellington Phoenix.
Carlos Hernandez (left) avoids a high foot from Roar player Jack Hingert.
Carlos Hernandez (left) avoids a high foot from Roar player Jack Hingert.
Phoenix players are distraught after Brisbane Roar scored a late winner.
Phoenix players are distraught after Brisbane Roar scored a late winner.

Wellington Phoenix coach Ernie Merrick has hailed an all-round team performance following his side's 5-0 demolition of Melbourne Victory in Wellington last night. 

Merrick endured a wretched start to his tenure as Phoenix coach as his side failed to register a win in their first 10 games of the season. 

Throughout that difficult period Merrick kept faith in his squad, insisting they were heading in the right direction. 

They finally registered their first win of the season against Sydney FC just before Christmas and have been one of the A-League's form teams ever since - victory over Melbourne last night taking their unbeaten run to five games, including four wins.  

"We've had some really good performances with nothing to show for it [earlier in the season]. It was just unfortunate for [Melbourne] Victory that on the day everything came good for us," Merrick said. 

"I don't think at any stage we were under pressure, we controlled the midfield, our backline got it right ... and our strikers were just in the right position, we maybe even could've scored a couple more actually." 

Manny Muscat (left) and Stein Huysegems celebrate after last night's win over Melbourne Victory.
Manny Muscat (left) and Stein Huysegems celebrate after last night's win over Melbourne Victory.

Despite the comprehensive result the Scot was typically level-headed. 

"We haven't achieved anything yet but it's good that that's another win and we're having this run now of five games [unbeaten] and we'll carry that into [Brisbane] Roar away now," he said. 

He also had high praise for three of the squad's younger brigade - new right back Michael Boxall, striker Tyler Boyd and teenage midfielder Matthew Ridenton. 

"The right back did a great job I thought. It's new to him - Boxall - and the young 17-year-old did really well, Matthew Ridenton, coming on for Carlos [Hernandez] and Tyler Boyd nearly played 90 minutes and he was always threatening, he did a great job. 

The Phoenix dominated possession from the off against the third-placed Victory and went ahead in the 21st minute when Costa Rican playmaker Hernandez buried a powerful right foot shot into the bottom left-hand corner of Nathan Coe's goal. 

Not to be outdone, Hernandez's compatriot Kenny Cunningham produced a contender for goal of the season just before halftime - a dipping, swerving volley from well outside the 18-yard-box. 

There was still time for one more goal before halftime as Hernandez was bought down by a flailing leg inside the area, before stepping up to convert the penalty and make it 3-0 at the break. 

Hernandez was replaced by Ridenton early in the second half and the game threatened to meander to a close without another goal until the introduction of Jeremy Brockie with 10 minutes to go. 

Brockie, last season's top scorer for the Phoenix, has endured a drought in front of goal this season, but put an end to that soon after entering the fray as he latched on to a through ball from the excellent Albert Riera, finishing with a first-time shot across goalkeeper Coe into the bottom right-hand corner. 

Striker Stein Huysegems put the icing on the cake two minutes later, with a cool finish on the turn to make it 5-0. It was the Belgian's seventh goal of the season, tying him for first place on the A-League's golden boot table. 

After the game Merrick insisted there was no issue with Hernandez, who was visibly unhappy when substituted early in the second half. 

"Carlos had a slight calf injury, he was limping, we took him off, he wanted to stay on, but I have to make these decisions, he's very happy now though."

The Phoenix face a tough assignment in the next game against runaway league leaders Brisbane Roar in Brisbane on Friday night. 

And if they are to extend their unbeaten run to six games they will have to do it without star Costa Rican contingent of Hernandez and Cunningham, who have been released from the squad to play for their national team.

Fairfax Media