Phoenix stifle Reds

Wellington has kept its hopes of a spot in the Hyundai A-League Finals Series alive and dealt Adelaide's Premiership ambitions a blow after holding the Reds to a 1-1 draw at Westpac Stadium.

Wellington has kept its hopes of a spot in the Hyundai A-League Finals Series alive and dealt Adelaide's Premiership ambitions a blow after holding the Reds to a 1-1 draw at Westpac Stadium.

Wellington, which finished the game with ten men after Tim Brown was sent off, is now two points behind fourth-placed Central Coast and needs to defeat Melbourne next week and hope the Mariners to lose to Adelaide is it is to make its maiden finals appearance.

Adelaide leads the Hyundai A-League ladder with one round to go, but only on goal difference and a hefty win by Melbourne over the Phoenix on Friday will have the Reds under pressure to match that result against the Mariners.

It was a terrific finish from Paul Reid, set up by skipper Travis Dodd, that gave the visitors the early lead on nine minutes before an excellent display of instinctive passing around the box allowed Costa Barbarouses to head in the equaliser after 30 minutes.

Brown was given his marching orders early in the second half adding to the tension, but Adelaide could not take advantage of having an extra man for the final 38 minutes.

Despite playing in its fifth game in just fifteen days, Adelaide came out of the blocks firing. The Reds looked fresh, aggressive and showed a hunger for the ball from the opening minute.

The approach paid off, and within 40 seconds Adelaide won a free kick in a dangerous position near the right corner flag.

Scott Jamieson's delivery was inch-perfect, and only an incredible reaction save from Phoenix ‘keeper Glenn Moss prevented the visitors from going ahead.

Adelaide's fine start continued, and the pressure eventually told, with Reid opening the scoring in the fifth minute.

Some superb interplay from the visitors saw a string of slick passes, with Dodd's telling final ball finding Reid unmarked in the box. The midfielder took a good first touch and hit a curling left foot shot across the body of Moss into the far corner to make the score 1-0.

Eventually the Phoenix awoke from their slumber after the opening goal and began to claw their way back into the match.

Wellington began to make several forays into Adelaide's territory using the flanks well to test the visitors' defence through some teasing crosses.

On the half hour mark, the Phoenix pressure paid off.

Shane Smeltz received the ball 20 yards out from the Adelaide line and a clever backheel found the run of Leo Bertos who hit a pinpoint cross across the face of goal that met the head of Barbarouses, who tucked a neat header into the far corner to level the scores.

The Phoenix were unlucky on two further occasions before the half time interval with Smeltz's dangerous balls created havoc in the Reds' defence.

It was the Phoenix who continued their momentum early in the second half.

A strong run from Smeltz created space for Daniel, who was put through on goal. The Brazilian tried to take the ball back onto his left foot, and delayed just long enough for Michael Valkanis to track back and block his shot on goal.

Referee Chris Beath had the next say in the match as he showed Brown a second yellow card, which saw the Phoenix ‘skipper taking an early shower.

However, as so often occurs when a man is sent off, the Phoenix galvanised and poured forward.

Barbarouses,Bertos and Manny Muscat all tested Adelaide keeper Eugene Galekovic but were unable to penetrate Adelaide's stingy defensive unit.

The Reds soaked up the pressure, and were content to attack the home side on the counter.

Reid came close to doubling his tally on 65 minutes, after he found himself through on goal but his effort skewed wide of the far post. Ben Sigmund went close for the home side on 84 minutes, but Galekovic was again equal to the task.

Wellington Phoenix 1 (Barbarouses 31) Adelaide United 1 (Reid 9) Crowd: 8241 at Westpac Stadium