Wellington Phoenix coach Ricki Herbert wasn't prepared to say if his team had nailed the lid on Sydney FC's coffin on Saturday at the Sydney Football Stadium but described his team'svictory as a 'big one for us'.
Wellington Phoenix coach Ricki Herbert wasn't prepared to say if his team had nailed the lid on Sydney FC's coffin on Saturday at the Sydney Football Stadium but described his team's 1-0 victory as a 'big one for us'.
The Phoenix are back in third spot after striker Paul Ifill's 13th-minute header decided the match but the Sky Blues are out of the six and with a very tough draw ahead in the remaining four rounds.
"The thing that's fascinating about this league is that you never know and it will go down to the wire. You'll have six or seven teams challenging for a home game,'' Herbert said.
"I know how they [Sydney] must be feeling tonight. They had their chances and we had to dig deep. It was a superb defensive display by the boys. It was about being resolute.
"We had to stop the losses quickly and it was all about getting the three points. Yes, it was a big one for us.''
While Herbert heaped praise on his players, the real hero was goalkeeper Mark Paston.
He denied Sydney striker Bruno Cazarine with two great saves in the first half and was commanding in his area when Sydney continually threatened in the second half.
Paston made one blemish in injury time when he misjudged a cross and Sydney defender Michael Beauchamp, who had moved forward, had an open net at his mercy but skyed the ball over the bar.
That summed up Sydney's tale of woe in front of goal.
"We lost the battle but we won't give up the season,'' Sydney coach Vitezslav Lavicka said.
"We've got four games to go and we'll do our best. We won't give in.
"It was quite a good performance tonight but we are missing quality in the penalty area. We had a big motivation to do it tonight but they counterattacked quickly and were always dangerous.
"We applied plenty of pressure but came away with no goals and no points.''
Sydney's two Qantas Socceroos Brett Emerton and Nick Carle came through unscathed and that's good news for national coach Holger Osieck ahead of Australia's World Cup qualifier against Saudi Arabia in Melbourne on Wednesday.
Emerton was head and shoulders above the rest of his Sydney team-mates against Wellington.
He was full of running and was back to his best with his crossing.