Phoenix rise against Gold Coast
Gold Coast United's A-League finals hopes sank further on Sunday night as a late Tim Brown header delivered Wellington Phoenix a 1-0 victory.
In a match of wasted chances by both sides, it was New Zealand international Brown who finally stepped up for a perfect finish from a curling Daniel free kick to give his side the three points.
It lifted Wellington (24) one point behind third-placed Melbourne Heart who fell to a 2-1 home loss to Perth Glory earlier in the day.
The ramifications are dire for the last-placed Coast (14) as they now sit five points from the top six and four from ninth-placed Newcastle.
Miked-up coach Miron Bleiberg was left frustrated and almost speechless at times as his men failed to produce a killer blow in front of another terribly low crowd of just 2135 at Skilled Park.
It was a match of missed opportunities for both teams, a handful of gilt-edged chances going begging.
While United had more shots on goal, the worst miss was by the visitors.
Just before Brown's 88th-minute header, Wellington were ruing a golden chance wasted by substitute James Downey who had only the goalkeeper to beat after a shocking defensive error by Jonas Salley.
Downey aimed a low shot to the left corner but young Coast stopper Jerrad Tyson produced one of the best saves in his brief A-League career.
"I almost can't talk because I almost wet my pants after what happened," Bleiberg exclaimed in a Fox Sports cross soon after.
Wellington started the more impressively and Gold Coast triallist Dani Sanchez, who Bleiberg recommended to the Phoenix, had two clear chances he couldn't convert in the opening five minutes.
United, though, ended the first half looking the more dangerous side.
In his halftime address, Bleiberg ordered his troops to take on fit-again Phoenix keeper Mark Paston more due to his long break on the sidelines.
They delivered immediately with Adama Traore hitting the woodwork after 20 seconds of the resumption before Peter Jungschlager had an angle shot cleared off the line by defender Manny Muscat.