Wellington Phoenix have kept their slim finals hopes alive – and extinguished Western Sydney’s – following an entertaining 2-1 win over the Wanderers at Bankwest Stadium on Wednesday night.
With both side’s needing a win to have any chance of making a late push for the top six, Tomer Hemed’s 42nd-minute header proved the difference.
David Ball gave the visitors a lead midway through the first-half, only for Keanu Baccus to equalise less than five minutes later.
The Phoenix were then forced to withstand a late onslaught from the Wanderers to hold on for a priceless three points, extending their unbeaten run to nine matches.
The victory has seen the Kiwi outfit jump up to seventh spot on the ladder, two points behind both Macarthur FC and Central Coast Mariners, although they have played a game more.
They will need to win their final two games against Perth Glory on Sunday and then the Bulls in the final round to have any chance of sneaking into the six.
The only downside for Ufuk Talay’s troops was a shoulder injury to Reno Piscopo that saw him leave the field in tears inside 15 minutes.
For the Wanderers, the defeat means the club are almost certain to miss the finals for a fourth straight season.
Carl Robinson’s side had their chances to take at least a point from the match but have picked up just nine points from their last 11 games to sit in ninth spot.