11 Mar 2012

Nix stay third after point at Heart

9:49 am on 11 March 2012

The Wellington Phoenix remain third on the A-League football table after drawing 1-1 with the Heart in Melbourne.

Nix striker Paul Ifill scored an exquisite 80th minute equaliser to guarantee themselves a home playoff match and remain in contention for a top two finish.

The Phoenix have now won four and drawn three of their eleven away matches this season and will remain in Melbourne to take on the other local side, the Victory, in their penultimate regular season match. Their final fixture's at home against competition leaders Central Coast.

Elsewhere, Sydney FC took control of their A-League finals fate with a deserved 1-0 home win over Melbourne Victory that also put an official end to the Victory's faint finals hopes.

The league-leading Mariners are set for a red-hot Perth reception when the travel-weary Central Coast side take on the Glory in boiling conditions on Sunday.

The Mariners did well to withstand freezing temperatures in their scoreless Asian Champions League draw against Tianjin Teda in China on Wednesday night - but with a 40 degree Celsius scorcher forecast for Perth, Central Coast's mettle will again be stretched to the limit in a game that will kick off at 4.30pm local time.

The Glory are well adapted to the conditions, and will attempt to turn the hot weather into a major advantage.

Despite posting just one win from their past six A-League fixtures, the ladder-leading Mariners remain in the box seat to secure the minor premiership.

Perth are desperate to lock in a top-four berth, but must close the gap on pacesetters Central Coast and Brisbane if they are to do any major damage come finals time.