Wanderers finals hopes all but over after home defeat to Wellington
The Western Sydney Wanderers have been dealt a significant blow in their chances of making the top six after suffering a heart-wrenching loss to the high-flying Wellington Phoenix.
Goals from strike-partners David Ball and Tomer Hemed won it for the away side.
The three points for the Phoenix now sees them just one point outside the top six and looking to jump over Macarthur in their final few games.
Carl Robinson’s side dominated the opening 10 minutes, finding space out wide and coming close to scoring through combinations by Mitch Duke and Thomas Aquilina. Graham Dorrans was a pivotal part of the pressure, too, finding space between the lines and unlocking the Phoenix defence to create opportunities for his team.
However, against the run of play, it was the away side who broke the deadlock. A near-post corner was flicked on before Ball ghosted past Ziggy Gordon to bundle it home and give his side the lead on the 23rd minute.
Wellington players celebrate David Ball's opener. (Wellington Phoenix)
Keanu Baccus gave the home side the equaliser in the 28th minute when his low-driven volley flew past the Phoenix goalkeeper to the delight of the home fans.
For the away side, though, another corner proved to be deadly for Western Sydney.
A brilliant ball from Clayton Lewis found Tomer Hemed, who pounced on the opportunity to give his side the lead once again in the 42nd minute.
Hemed’s goal proved to be the last action of the half, with both heading to the sheds with Wellington Phoenix boasting the 2-1 lead.
Former Wanderers player Joshua Sotirio had a golden chance to give his side a 3-1 lead when he was played in behind and went one-on-one with Daniel Margush. However, the goalkeeper produced a superb save to his right to keep it at 2-1.
More corners proved problematic for the Wanderers and provided more scoring opportunities for the Phoenix early in the second half.
Bruce Kamau had a chance in the 49th minute to level the score, but a brilliant save from Oliver Sail kept it at 2-1.
Kamau once again had a brilliant chance to make it 2-2 when a header from Aquilina saw him one-on-one with the keeper, but he squandered his chance and spared his blushes.
The hosts kept the pressure on for the remaining minutes of the half. Still, they could not tie it up with the Phoenix taking the precious points in their pursuit of a top-six finish.
Western Sydney will host Brisbane Roar on Sunday as they look to keep their slim finals hopes alive. Meanwhile, the Phoenix once again return to New Zealand on the same day when they play Peth Glory in the “Distance-Derby”.