Phoenix denied at the death

WELLINGTON Phoenix’s mission to make the Hyundai A-League 2008/09 playoffs takes a significant turn against the Newcastle Jets this weekend after Sunday night’s gut-wrenching loss to the Queensland Roar.

WELLINGTON Phoenix-s mission to make the Hyundai A-League 2008/09 playoffs takes a significant turn against the Newcastle Jets this weekend after Sunday night-s gut-wrenching loss to the Queensland Roar.

The Phoenix twice led the match at Suncorp Stadium at Brisbane, only to see the home side arm-wrestle themselves back into the match. Then, deep in injury time, the Roar snatched three points, courtesy of a deflected free kick, to win 3-2.

The loss puts a dent in the Phoenix-s hopes of being the first ever New Zealand-based club to make the Hyundai A-League playoffs, giving the Wellingtonians added incentive ahead of Sunday night-s big clash with the Newcastle Jets at Westpac Stadium.

Phoenix coach Ricki Herbert was rightfully disappointed following the match, adamant the Phoenix deserved to leave Brisbane with at least a point after twice leading the match and entering injury time on par, albeit with a man down after skipper Andrew Durante was walked after receiving a second yellow card.

“We got our noses in front twice and we definitely should have taken something from the game. At the end of the day 2-2 probably would have done us, but there was some poor decision-making in the last two minutes and we copped one.”

Herbert took little solace in the fact that the Phoenix were able to get two past the competition-s tightest defence – a Roar own-goal early in the first half and a Troy Hearfield headed score early in the second.

“When you-re away from home and playing in a place as difficult as Brisbane you-ve got to take your chances. For the most part we did that, but we let ourselves down at crucial times and where we should have been getting on the bus with at least a point we-re now going home with nothing.”

The Phoenix remain in fifth position on the Hyundai A-League table on 22 points, just a win outside the top four.

Herbert said the club-s ambitions to achieve history by being the first New Zealand-based Hyundai A-League club to make the playoffs were still on track.

“It-s down to the last four games now and we can only deal with the things that we can deal with. Roll on Sunday against the Jets. We-re still right in the thick of things but we must look to get back on a roll. We-ll put this behind us, regroup at home and look to get things back on track against Newcastle.”

Durante will miss Sunday-s match after being marched in injury time against the Roar, while midfielder Jon McKain is also out after receiving his fifth caution of the season against the Roar.

“Those two guys are big losses for us, obviously,” Herbert said. “But fortunately we have extremely good depth in the squad and the guys we bring in will be up for it, such is the level of competition for places.”

Queensland Roar 3 (Matt McKay 38′, Sergio van Dijk 48′, Tommy Oar 91′)
Wellington Phoenix 2 (Luke DeVere [og] 11′, Troy Hearfield 46′)

Venue: Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane
Crowd: 13,115