Sydney FC are in serious danger of missing the A-League finals after falling to Wellington Phoenix 1-0 at the SFS on Saturday.Sydney FC are in serious danger of missing the Hyundai A-League finals after falling to Wellington Phoenix 1-0 at the SFS on Saturday night.
The Sky Blues played well enough to at least share the points with the visitors but they just couldn't find a way past Wellington and New Zealand goalkeeper Mark Paston.
Striker Paul Ifill scored the decisive goal for the visitors in the 13th minute but it was Paston who was the real hero.
Socceroo Brett Emerton tried everything to spark the home team but they had nothing to show for their attacking efforts.
The victory was a big result for Wellington who leap frog Perth Glory into third place.
But the defeat was costly for Sydney who are now out of the six and have a very tough run home with matches against Central Coast, Melbourne Victory, Melbourne Heart and Newcastle Jets to finish the season.
Sydney should have stolen a point in injury time when Paston came out for a cross and misjudged it leaving Sky Blues defender Michael Bauchamp with the net at his mercy but he skied over the bar.
Sydney certainly started promisingly enough and striker Bruno Cazarine was in the thick of the action with two scoring opportunities in the opening 10 minutes.
The first came after just three minutes when captain Terry McFlynn won possession and fed Joel Chianese. The young striker found Cazarine on his left but the Brazilian's left foot effort sailed over the bar.
Five minutes later, Scott Jamieson surged down the left and his precise cross was met by Cazarine's head. It was goalbound but Wellington keeper Paston made the save more spectacular than what it appeared.
Sydney had done all the attacking but found themselves on the wrong side of the ledger after 13 minutes. Wellington defender Tony Lochhead was given too much space on the left to deliver a cross into the box and Ifill did the rest with a bullet-like header that beat the outstretched right hand of Sydney keeper Ivan Necevski.
Sydney thought they had claims for a penalty in the 23rd minute when Chianese went down in the box. Phoenix goalie Paston definitely made contact with the young striker but instead referee Peter Green booked the attacker for diving.
Paston came to the rescue for the visitors in the 42nd minute, once again denying Cazarine after a brilliant cross from Emerton, who did ever so well to keep the ball in play.
This time Cazarine thought he'd beaten Paston with his well struck downward header but Paston used his hands to make the initial save and then his legs as Cazarine tried to put the rebound away.
Wellington came out in the second half and exerted more pressure on the home team in search for a second goal.
Ifill went perilously close in the 52nd minute when he tried to place the ball into the far corner.
Sydney lost their way for a 10-minute period, playing too many aimless long balls, but once they regained their composure, they began to mount numerous raids.
Wellington were forced to dig deep to preserve their lead with Andrew Durante a tower of strength at the back at the death, while goalie Paston's reflexes were brilliant.