A second-half penalty from Adam le Fondre was enough to give Sydney FC a pressure-relieving 1-0 A-League victory over Wellington in Campbelltown.
The Sky Blues' frustrating month looked set to continue on Saturday evening after failing to convert a number of clear-cut opportunities in the opening hour. However, substitute Alex Brosque made an instant impact after drawing a foul from Phoenix goalkeeper Filip Kurto in the 65th minute. And Le Fondre made no mistake from the spot, blasting over a flat-footed Kurto to kick out momentarily to a two-goal lead in the golden boot race.
His clutch delivery would've provided a sigh of relief for coach Steve Corica, whose side had fumbled their way to just one win in four previous matches.
"We'd like to win a lot more comfortable but it is what it is at the moment. We're struggling to take our chances, but we'll improve," Corica said. "And when they do come, we're going to hurt teams come the end of the season and in the finals."
For the Phoenix, however, the defeat continues their own barren run that has yielded just one win in their past six games. This season's surprise packets had a handful of looks at an equaliser, however Cillian Sheridan, Max Burgess and Alex Rufer all were denied.
Mark Rudan's side remain delicately placed in sixth -- six points ahead of Newcastle, who face Adelaide on Sunday afternoon. Compounding the loss was a suspected season-ending knee injury to defender Dylan Fox, who was taken off on a stretcher in the first half.
Wellington had moved their home game to the southwestern Sydney ground because of a festival, and a lack of available alternative venues. And the meagre 5,115 crowd, made up primarily of Sky Blues fans, were treated to a match played on an alarmingly sandy surface.
The chances flowed early and often for Sydney FC, with Reza Ghoochannejhad and le Fondre setting each other up for misses inside the opening 20 minutes. Wellington had their opportunities, and thought they had the opener when Michal Kopczynski acted quickest to a ricochet.
However, the Sky Blues were bailed out after Kopczynski was ruled offside, despite the keeper well clear of his goalmouth. The Phoenix defender was caught just in between two Sydney FC players coming off their own goal line.
Rudan said his team simply lacked quality in the final third.
"Quite frustrating - if you look at the way the game panned out, it could've gone either way. Both teams had chances and half chances," he said. "But that little bit of extra quality in the final third. We made enough entries into the box. A bit of desperate defending by them, I'll give them some credit."