Phoenix concede late

A late strike by Chris Grossman has seen North Queensland Fury grab a share of the spoils with a 1-1 draw in its Round 7 Hyundai A-League clash against the Wellington Phoenix.

A late strike by Chris Grossman has seen North Queensland Fury grab a share of the spoils with a 1-1 draw in its Round 7 Hyundai A-League clash against the Wellington Phoenix.

The midfielder struck deep into stoppage time at a sun-soaked Westpac Stadium just when the Phoenix looked on course for its second win of the season.

The Phoenix led for most of the game thanks to a sixth minute effort from Leo Bertos but in truth the home side only has itself to blame after wasting several clear cut chances - as it did in last weekend-s 1-1 draw away at Melbourne.

Paul Ifill was again the pick of the Phoenix and although the big forward did not get on the score sheet his high work-rate meant he was a constant thorn in the side of the North Queenslanders.

He set up Bertos- goal, delivered some great ball into the box which went unrewarded and show deft touches as he regularly beat the defence but he was forced from the field with a hamstring strain with well over half-an-hour remaining.

It was Ifill who beat two defenders to set up Bertos- opener. Having jinked his way past the defence he lobbed the ball into the box where it bounced off Andrew Durante-s shoulder into Bertos- path and the midfielder stabbed it home.

The Phoenix could have been 3-0 up inside the first 20 minutes but for the goalkeeping of Paul Henderson.

The Fury stopper produced a fine save to deny Tim Brown after a great ball in from the left from Tony Lochhead.

Then a couple of minutes later he got his hand to a cross from the right from Ifill which then bobbled off Daniel-s legs and inches past the post.

The Fury was not without its chances though as James Robinson saw an effort hit the side netting,

A cross by the midfielder which Daniel McBreen got his head to then forced Mark Paston to make a smart save.

The Phoenix keeper was called into action again late in the first half, getting a hand to Robbie Fowler-s free-kick from just outside the box.

The Fury marquee man had a quiet first half but with his side behind in the possession stakes and the Phoenix spending more time in the opposition-s half it was no surprise.

Daniel missed another glorious chance 10 minutes into the second half after a great break out by Lochhead and Ifill from deep inside their own half.

A superb ball by Ifill put the big defender in space and his cross into the box from the left saw Henderson weakly punch it away but Daniel couldn-t control it and Scott Wilson, who came on for Karl Dodd, late in the first spell, got his foot in to clear close to the line. It was Ifill-s last involvement in the game and he was replaced by Troy Hearfield.

Chris Greenacre then forced a save from Henderson after dispossessing John Tambouras on the edge of the box before Fowler found the back of the net in the 78th minute after Grossman dragged the ball across the face of goal for the former Liverpool man to tap home but he was ruled offside.

The Fury continued to press hard for the equaliser and it was a free-kick into the box from Fowler that ricochet around the box before falling at Grossman-s feet and he made no mistake.

Phoenix coach Ricki Herbert was bitterly disappointed his side-s failure to take its chances had again cost them points.

“It-s kind of what we-ve been like for the last three weeks and we-ve done enough again, especially first half, to win three games."

“But we haven-t put them away and we-ve got punished at the death. It-s probably the hardest one to swallow, the one today.”

Fury coach Ian Ferguson felt some sympathy for his opposite number.

“I feel Ricki-s pain. This has happened to us on a couple of occasions where we-ve lost late goals and points have been whipped away from us."

“But it-s our joy and I-m delighted with the boys in the second half. I thought they played really well and controlled the second half for long spells."

“We were lucky to go in 1-0 down at half-time and we rode our luck a bit but I-m delighted with the result."

“I-m really pleased for the boys. We dug in deep and we battled well for 90 plus minutes which is great.”

Wellington Phoenix 1 Bertos 6' North Queensland Fury 1 Grossman 94'