The Wellington Phoenix will be without captain Andrew Durante and vice-captain Tim Brown for their Hyundai A-League clash with table-topping Central Coast Mariners at Bluetongue Stadium on Saturday.
Durante and Brown each picked up yellow cards in the 2-0 loss to Brisbane Roar on Sunday and, it being the fifth this season for both players, they are automatically suspended.
The cautions left a sour taste in the Phoenix dressing room, especially as the cards came in the 85th minute (Durante) and 94th minute.
There is a feeling throughout the competition that while playing standards have improved markedly since the league began refereeing standards have gone the opposite way.
That is a sentiment that Durante, who received his for alleged dissent, didn-t disagree with when speaking about his caution after the game.
“Knowing I was on four yellows I think I-m smart enough not to say anything that would get me another, especially so late in the game,” Durante said.
“As captain I am allowed to speak to the linesman and I wasn-t rude to him.
“I asked him in front of the referee if I was rude and he said ‘no-.
“He (referee) said ‘you can-t wave your arms around because it looks bad-.
“It was one of the most frustrating games I-ve played in and he (referee) didn-t get much help from his assistants.”
Brown was also seething about his late caution as there was little or no contact between him and Roar striker Besart Berisha.
Phoenix coach Ricki Herbert accepted the cautions had no effect on the result but had ramifications for next week-s game.
“We-re second in the league and I think that-s caused a few concerns for a few people, if I-m honest,” Herbert said.
About the prospect of facing the Mariners without two influential players, Herbert said his players just had to get on with the job.
“It calls for resilience within the group and that is something we have shown all season,” Herbert said.
“We showed it again tonight in the second half when we probably created enough chances to win the game.
“We were through twice on-on-one with the keeper and there were other opportunities.
“Some of the delivery into the box could have been better but we kept at it and that is a credit to the guys.
“We are in a crucial part of the season and this (the cards) doesn-t help but we will carry on doing what we-ve been doing.”