The Wellington Phoenix have dropped down to fourth place in football's A-League after Saturday night's 2-0 loss to the table-topping Central Coast Mariners in Gosford.
The defeat, their second in a row, was compounded by Perth Glory's subsequent victory over Newcastle Jets which sees the Western Australians leapfrog the New Zealand side into third place.
The Phoenix now have a battle to gain home advantage in the first play-off match should they remain in the top six.
A sensational strike from teenager Tomas Rogic early in the second half and a textbook header from Patrick Zwaanswijk after 83 minutes were enough for the Mariners, who dominated the fixture from the opening whistle.
The victory snaps the Mariners' two-game A-League losing streak, and also ends Wellington's recent run of good form on the road.
The champions Brisbane won again at home, the Roar beating the Melbourne Victory 3-2 to consolidate their hold on second place.