His side may have missed a late penalty but coach Mark Rudan says Thursday night’s 1-1 draw with Newcastle Jets is a “huge result” in Wellington Phoenix’s quest to make the Hyundai A-League Finals Series.
The sixth-placed Phoenix maintained their eight-point advantage from the Jets (seventh) after their entertaining draw at McDonald Jones Stadium.
It could have been a whole let better for the visitors had Roy Krishna converted an 88th-minute penalty which was superbly saved by Jets keeper Glen Moss.
Regardless, Rudan was full of praise for his side’s performance and feels they are now in the box seat to break their finals drought.
"It's a big gap, eight points. Knowing that [the Jets] are in the ACL now as well, it was important,” Rudan said.
"We obviously wanted to win the game and could have done so easily but from a mentality point of view, that's a huge result as far as we're concerned because eight points is a lot of points to catch up there.
"We've got a better goal difference as well. You could almost add a point on for that, too, if it is the same. So superb by the boys.
"This is the last run home and the boys are eager, eager to get out there.”
For the Jets, coach Ernie Merrick was left to rue a number of missed chances from his side in the second half.
Young Phoenix keeper Oliver Sail – deputising for the ill Filip Kurto - had a brilliant match, denying the home side time and again with a string of outstanding stops.
"The boys gave everything, they really tried hard to win the game, they created some really clear-cut chances, we hit the post and the crossbar,” Merrick said.
“Once again, the opposition goalkeeper was man of the match. He was pulling off saves left, right and centre, which is a credit to the young boy.
“We just didn’t score after we got [the first one]. It just makes our job more difficult.
"I think we've got the record for opposing goalkeepers winning man of the match."
The Jets next have an AFC Champions League qualifier against Persija Jakarta on Tuesday night before hosting Melbourne City next Friday night, while Wellington’s next match is a blockbuster against Melbourne Victory at Eden Park in Auckland.