Payne: Wellington need to start turning performances into results - and fast

Wellington Phoenix defender Tim Payne says his side can no longer afford to end up on the losing side in tight contests if they are to salvage their unravelling 2020/21 A-League campaign.

The Phoenix lost 3-2 to Melbourne City at WIN Stadium on Sunday night, after twice coming from behind to equalise at 1-1 and 2-2. Payne's side were brave, gallant, persistent and more than up to the task of taking it to one of the league's top teams - but a late Marco Tilio goal ensured the Phoenix came away with nothing.

Losing to City has left Wellington seven points adrift of Sydney FC in sixth place, having played 15 games to date - the equal-most of any side in the league. 

MATCH REPORT: Wellington Phoenix 2-3 Melbourne City

It's a familiar story for the Phoenix which Payne believes he's seen far too often in the current A-League season. 

"I think that’s been the story of our season so far," Payne told FOX Sports post-match.

"We’ve been involved in a few good games like that for the spectator, but on a personal level it’s very disappointing to let ourselves down again."

Payne continued: "we all know we’re a good team, we’ve shown it out there tonight but at the end of the day we’ve got to get results.

"We’ve got to somehow find that killer touch, as I said, in both six-yard box’s.

"We’ve got to do it ASAP. Over half of the season is gone already, so we’ve got to try and turn things around.

We’re happy with the performances but we’ve got to turn those performances into results now - and fast." 

MONDAY REPORT: Wales punishes misfiring Jets as Western United close on top six
SUNDAY REPORT: Ten-man Victory no match for Sky Blues in 3-0 defeat

WATCH: Curtis Good gets above Payne to put City up

But while Wellington can hear the clock ticking on a mid-season revival, City will feel they have all the time in the world to eventually overthrow Central Coast Mariners and claim top spot on the A-League table following the gutsy 3-2 win at WIN Stadium.

City are now just two points off the top of the table, with a game in hand on the Mariners - who travel to face Western Sydney Wanderers at Bankwest Stadium on Tuesday night (7.05pm kick-off AEST).

Jamie Maclaren scored his 13th goal of the season against Wellington, putting his side 2-1 up before Tilio emerged from the bench to erase the impact of Ulises Dávila's second-half equaliser to snatch three points for City.

Maclaren hailed the impact of Tilio and fellow substitute Stefan Colakovski after the game, admitting City spoke pre-match about the impact their bench would need to produce if the visitors were to have any chance of overcoming the Phoenix in Wollongong.

"It could have gone either way. Wellington are a very good side, and they play some good stuff here," Maclaren said.

"It was difficult for us. At half-time we said to make it less transitional, but it seems we went and made it more transitional.

"We’re proud of the three points - it’s a hard place to come. 

"The boys that came on, (Colakovski) and Tilio, they were fantastic.

"That’s what we said at the start - the substitutes were going to make a difference, and they did tonight."

WATCH: Tilio scores first City goal in dream scenario

It was a first goal in City colours for Tilio, who netted just once for Sydney FC before making a switch in Blue to join Patrick Kisnorbo's ranks.

"It was incredible, to finally get an opportunity and take it, it feels good," Tilio said of his match-winning goal.

"The boys have been incredible to me all season, telling me to keep my head up.

"Finally (I received) a chance, and we got the win so that’s the most important thing."

Next Matches 

Sydney FC v Melbourne Victory
Saturday, April 10 2021
Leichhardt Oval 
Kick-off: 5.05 AEST
Match Centre

Wellington Phoenix v Western United
Sunday, April 11 2021
WIN Stadium
Kick-off: 7.05pm AEST
Match Centre

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TUESDAY PREVIEW: Western Sydney Wanderers v Central Coast Mariners
WEDNESDAY PREVIEW: Sydney FC v Perth Glory