Phoenix on the brink

Ricki Herbert is keeping the champagne on ice despite the Wellington Phoenix being on the cusp of making the Hyundai A-League finals for the first time.

Ricki Herbert is keeping the champagne on ice despite the Wellington Phoenix being on the cusp of making the Hyundai A-League finals for the first time.

Saturday's scrappy 1-0 win against Adelaide in front of a record crowd of 19,258 at AMI Stadium in Christchurch, cemented the Phoenix in the top six with just two rounds remaining.

"We've just got to keep grafting away but I think tonight was a terrific opportunity now to put us in the driving seat," the Wellington coach said.

A top-four finish, which would give them a home tie in the play-offs, also remains a possibility for the New Zealand side and it is one that both Herbert and his skipper Andrew Durante are gunning for.

"We won't be holding back now," said Herbert. "We've got to go to Gold Coast and we've done well against them this year. They haven't beaten us yet."

"They will probably want first or second position too so it's got all the ingredients for a decent game. We won't take the foot off the pedal."

With an unbeaten run of 16 games at Westpac Stadium which stretches back to October 2008, Durante is well aware of how vital home advantage would be in the finals series.

"It's clear it's going to be huge for us," the skipper said. "Our away trips haven't set the world on fire this season but at Westpac we're very, very hard to beat.

"If we get a home semi-final I think the team that plays us mentally they are going to be in for a tough time."

"It's shown it's hard to come across the Tasman and pick up any type of points so we're definitely going to push for this top four and try and get that home ground advantage."

Saturday's match was not one for the highlights reel, although Jon McKain took his opportunity well in the first half which ultimately proved to be the difference.

Adelaide can count themselves unfortunate not to have taken at least a point from the match given the number of chances it created from set-piece.

But in the end the excellent reflexes of Phoenix goalkeeper Liam Reddy were enough to deny them.

"He's huge for us," admitted Durante. "It's clear to see that if it does break the last line of defence we've got someone who is so demanding and commanding at the back. He's done wonders for us."

Adelaide captain Travis Dodd was left to rue yet more missed opportunities.

"We've worked a lot on set-pieces throughout the year but for one reason or another we haven't been able to score off them. Tonight we had some good opportunities but we can't find the back of the net," he lamented.

"It's been the story of our season. It's frustrating as a player to play some decent football and come away with nothing."

"Young Frankie Monterosso at the death came close. Reddy tipped three or four over the bar. Tonight it wasn't meant to be."

"We need to keep working hard and create our own luck. That's the only way it's going to turn around for us. We can't afford to chuck in the towel."