Wellington Phoenix leapfrogged Central Coast Mariners into seventh spot on the A-League ladder with a 2-0 away win at Bluetongue Stadium in Gosford this New Year’s Eve.
It was the Mariners’ fifth straight loss in the competition this season.
The crowd of 11,137 was the Mariners' largest of the season but the lowest ever for the traditional New Year's Eve game.
Paul Ifill was guilty of some glaring misses for the visitors, but in the end, the Barbados international proved to be the key player, winning and scoring a penalty and also netting the second goal to take his season’s tally to eight.
Matt Simon was unable to make his chances count for the home side and he was eventually substituted.
Adrian Caceres was a live-wire for Wellington down the flanks and it was his clever back-heel that set up Ifill for the second goal.
Both sides were poor in the final third in terms of passing and shooting and both were too frequently caught off-side.
Wellington went close in the 4th minute when Troy Hearfield had a shot from 20 metres, but goalkeeper Andrew Redmayne produced an excellent save to conceded a fruitless corner.
The Australian under-20 team keeper also saved well from close range against Caceres in the 39th minute.
The Mariners’ first chance came in the 10th minute and it should have been a goal.
Brad Porter crossed from the right and Michael McClinchey met the ball with his head, but the attempt was far too weak and keeper Liam Reddy dealt with it easily.
A minute later, Hearfield sent over a dangerous low cross from the right and Vince Lia missed a great chance when he could only get the faintest of touches and the ball carried harmlessly to the far side of the pitch.
In the 14th minute, Nik Mrdja took the first of three free-kicks he had for the Mariners during the course of the match. It proved to be his most dangerous, but it was deflected for a harmless corner.
Ifill twisted and turned in the 25th minute to get in a strike on goal from just outside the box, but the ball drifted wide of the right-hand post.
Reddy was called into action in the 33rd minute and did very well to block from Mrdja at close range after a long clearance by the Mariners had left the visitors’ central defenders flat-footed.
Two minutes after the resumption, Predrag Bojic fouled Ifill inside the box and the striker slotted home the spot-kick to give Wellington the lead.
Ifill should have scored in the 67th minute, but aimed a poor header high and wide of the target.
He did better 10 minutes from the end when Caceres cut into the box from the right and back-heeled the ball to Ifill, who rifled it home from 15 metres to make it 2-0.
Wellington’s Diego poked the ball wide in the 85th minute when he might have scored, while a minute later, at the other end, McGlinchey’s shot on the turn flew wide.
Porter had a good game defensively for the Mariners, saving almost certain goals on two occasions by heading clear.
The Mariners are in eighth place and five losses in a row must be a huge cause for concern to coach Lawrie McKinna.