North Queensland Fury have finished their Hyundai A-League season with a 3-1 defeat in Wellington after a spirited effort on Sunday afternoon.
The victory guarantees the Phoenix sixth place on the ladder and means the Fury complete the season with four wins.
First half goals to Wellington-s- Chris Greenacre and Dylan Macallister and a stoppage time penalty scored by goalkeeper Danny Vukovic sealed the win at Westpac Stadium.
Centre-half Brett Studman scored the Fury-s only goal of the day, but was sent off after conceding the late penalty, for a foul on Phoenix striker Mirjan Pavlovic.
Chris Greenacre got the opener in the seventh minute and Dylan Macallister doubled the lead four minutes later but it was the penalty by goalkeeper Danny Vukovic – in his final home game for the Phoenix – that got the biggest cheer from the 12,718 crowd in the 93rd minute and sealed the win in dramatic fashion.
Brett Studman’s goal in the 66th minute had given the Fury some hope of a comeback. But when he was adjudged to have pulled back substitute Mirjan Pavlovic in the box in the dying stages of the match referee Peter O’Leary pointed to the spot and showed Studman a straight red card.
Fury were without skipper Ufuk Talay in what would have been his last A-League match before retiring and although they toiled hard and created opportunities, the North Queenslanders lacked fire power in the final third.
After conceding early goals the Fury had two good chances in the first half that fell to Chris Grossman and David Williams, who put his effort wide from close range.
Marco Rojas, as ever, played his part as the visitors were forced to soak up wave after wave of pressure.
It was his perfectly weighted through ball that split the Fury defence that allowed Greenacre to coolly slot home his eighth of the season.
Macallister had Sigmund, and the linesman, to thank for his goal in the 11th minute.
The big striker appeared to be offside when he chested down Sigmund’s long ball but wasn’t flagged and then chipped over the unfortunate Sebastian Usai, who started in place of the suspended Justin Pasfield.
Macallister had another good chance in the 24th minute but headed straight at the keeper.
After the early goals the game lost some of its shape with goal-scoring opportunities drying up and the home side took a 2-0 lead into the break.
North Queensland coach Franz Straka brought Adam Casey off at half-time and replaced him with Lorenzo Sipi but Rojas continued to cause havoc down the left flank throughout the second half.
In the 66th minute, it was Phoenix keeper Vukovic who found himself picking the ball up out of his net after Studman thunderous header from a Bradley McDonald corner to give the Fury hope.
The Phoenix caused the Fury some concerns in the final 20 minutes – particularly as the Fury pushed forward for an equaliser – but unfortunately Wellington-s final goal came at the expense of Studman who was adjudged to have stopped a goal scoring opportunity when he tangled with Mirjan Pavlovic in the box.
Although the Fury-s Hyundai A-League season is now over, it-s a busy week for the Club who have the All Stars XI v Ufuk Talay XI on Wednesday night, a series of junior club visits throughout the week and on Friday, the annual Medal Night at Jupiters Casino in Townsville.