26 Feb 2012

Phoenix move up to third and all but end Sydney's hopes

7:33 am on 26 February 2012

The Wellington Phoenix footballers have posted a crucial 1-0 away win at Sydney FC thanks to a 13th minute Paul Ifill header at the Sydney Football Stadium.

From there the Nix defended grimly to hold on, moving up to third on the A-League football table and leaving Sydney's A-League finals hopes hanging by a thread.

Sydney failed to capitalise despite dominating the match and now drop outside the top six with four tough games remaining.

The Phoenix meanwhile bounced back from two straight losses to strengthen their claims for a top four finish.

The second-placed defending champion Brisbane also won 3-0 at Perth to put five points between them and the Nix, whose last four games are at the two Melbourne clubs, sandwiched inbetween home fixtures against bottom placed Gold Coast and top placed CCM in Wellington.

Gold Coast also stymied Melbourne Victory's playoffs push with a 1-1 home draw at Skilled Park, the hosts United sporting "Freedom Of Speech" on their shirts and earning possible sanctions from Football Federation Australia.

The FFA has formally advised the club it's in material breach of its A-League club participation agreement over the protest action, which is aimed at the FFA over a spat between United's owner Clive Palmer and the ruling body, who has labelled the A-League a joke.

The club did not have FFA approval for use of the slogan on the playing strip and stadium signage, as required under the terms of its participation in the league.