Wellington Phoenix produced an excellent first half performance, but were ultimately undone by goals either side of half time and a straight red card to Roy Krishna in a 2-1 defeat to Perth Glory at nib Stadium on Thursday night.
The contest started brightly for Phoenix as top scorer Krishna extended his tally to eight for the season by putting the away in front on 10 minutes.
Wellington were in control and creating plenty of chances, but went into the break level after Rostyn Griffiths produced a stunning shot to make it 1-1 on the stroke of half time.
Shortly after the break Glory took the lead through an Adam Taggart header and the visitors’ hopes of mounting a fightback took a blow when Krishna was sent off for what the referee had deemed a dangerous challenge on the hour mark.
Shane Smeltz started the match for Phoenix in what was his first game since returning to the club in December.
The All Whites striker was heavily involved early on as Wellington put pressure on the Glory defence and almost went in front on five minutes.
Kosta Barbarouses put Krishna through on goal with a fantastic pass, but the Fijian striker was denied by the quick reactions of Perth goalkeeper Liam Reddy.
Five minutes later Phoenix took a deserved lead as Smeltz showed great vision to find Krishna who burst into the area and fired in a powerful diagonal shot which got the better of Reddy and put Wellington 1-0 up.
It also proved a landmark Hyundai A-League goal with the Fijian flier claiming the competition’s 4000th goal.
The visitors keep pushing for a second after going in front and forced Reddy into a couple of uncomfortable saves midway through the first half, with a great chance created by Smeltz producing an impressive one handed save from the Perth goalkeeper.
Phoenix had another good chance to extend the lead before the break as Roly Bonevacia teed up Barbarouses inside the box from a tight angle and while the New Zealand international struck it well at the near post, the Glory ‘keeper beat it away.
Despite the away side’s first-half dominance, Perth managed to level before the interval as Griffiths hit an unstoppable drive from outside the box to make it 1-1 at half time.
Glory then took the lead early in the second half as Andy Keogh crossed in for Taggart who headed home from close range.
Wellington’s task got much tougher on the hour mark as a Krishna challenge on Shane Lowry was adjudged to have been dangerous by the referee and the Fijian was given a straight red card.
While Phoenix pushed hard for an equaliser, with Roly Bonevacia coming close with a long-range fierce drive they were unable to come way from Perth with a point.
Up next at Westpac, Wellington take on Central Coast Mariners on Saturday 14 January, kick-off 7.35pm. Tickets here.
Or why not become a nix member with a January hat-trick pack! Only $50 for adults, $25 for students and $5 for juniors.