Carlos Hernandez scored his first goal for Wellington Phoenix but it wasn’t enough as they went down 2-1 to A-League leaders Brisbane Roar in Wellington.
Hernandez broke his duck from the penalty spot early in the second half after Brisbane defender Matt Smith had given his side a 1-0 halftime lead against the run of play on Saturday.
Goalkeeper Glen Moss gave the Phoenix hope when he saved a Besart Berisha penalty in the 65th minute only for Ivan Franjic to curl home the winner 16 minutes from time.
The Phoenix were the better side for much of the game, putting the Roar under sustained pressure, but their inability to score goals continues to haunt them as they search for their first win under Ernie Merrick.
Hernandez, back in the side after missing the trip to Perth with a thigh injury, hit the side netting in the 13th minute.
A combination of good goalkeeping by Michael Theo, who missed the previous two games with a shoulder injury, and poor finishing left the Phoenix vulnerable to a sucker punch.
Theo cut out two well-placed Hernandez crosses for Jeremy Brockie, then saved another effort from Stein Huysegems.
But it was Brockie’s miss in the 26th minute that summed up the Phoenix’s day when he fired over the crossbar despite being unmarked and with an open goal after Theo had palmed away another Huysegems shot.
The win briefly moved the Roar eight points clear on top of the table – but only until Western Sydney halted their winless streak with a 1-0 victory over Newcastle in the late game, courtesy of a Mark Bridge goal.
The Wanderers had not posted a win in three weeks, their last triumph coming in round six over Melbourne Victory.
But Bridge netted the lone goal in the 33rd minute to ensure the three points for the reigning premiers at Hunter Stadium.
The win keeps the Wanderers in second place on the ladder and within reach of top-dogs Brisbane, who remain five points ahead.
Adelaide United, meanwhile, earned a confidence-boosting 4-0 win over Central Coast Mariners at Hindmarsh Stadium.
United were in control for most of the match, and the win will ease some of the pressure on under-fire United coach Josep Gombau.
Bruce Djite opened the scoring in the 25th minute, his close-range finish earning him his first A-League goal of the season.
Fabio Ferreira made it 2-0 in the 40th minute, and the home side was good value for the lead at the break.
The Mariners tried to get back in the game, but it was over as a contest 10 minutes after the interval, when Sergio Cirio – who had laid on the first two goals – turned poacher when he kept the ball in on the byline and beat Liam Reddy to tap in the third.
The visitors never looked like mounting a serious comeback, and Jeronimo Neumann made it four with an excellent finish just before full-time.