A second-half penalty from Adam Le Fondre was enough for Sydney FC to edge past Wellington Phoenix 1-0 at Campbelltown Stadium on Saturday.
Phoenix’s decision to take their home match to Sydney’s west didn’t pay off as they slumped to a seventh loss in their last nine games against the Sky Blues.
Le Fondre got the decisive goal 20 minutes after the break after substitute Alex Brosque was felled by a clumsy challenge from Phoenix custodian Filip Kurto.
The result snaps a two-game winless run for the Sky Blues and sees them leapfrog Melbourne Victory into second spot, at least until the champions’ clash with Melbourne City later on Saturday night.
For the Phoenix, the defeat has opened the door for the seventh-placed Jets to close the gap to the top six to just three points if they can beat Adelaide United on Sunday.
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In an evenly-contested first-half that saw both sides create excellent opportunities, it was Sydney FC’s Reza Ghoochannejhad who went closest to opening the scoring.
Inside seven minutes the Iranian was sent through on goal but Kurto showed great reflexes and a strong right-hand to keep out his powerful drive.
Ghoochannejhad went even closer midway through the half as he curled a shot from a tough angle which cannoned into the far post and away.
Michal Kopczynski had the ball in the net for Wellington on 27 minutes after a mad scramble in the box, only to be denied by an excellent offside decision by the assistant referee.
The chances continued to flow after the break, with David Williams inches away from finding the net with a speculative curling effort from distance.
But it was the introduction of Brosque just after the hour mark that proved the spark for the Sky Blues.
Within two minutes of coming off the bench, Brosque chased a through-ball into the box and got a touch just before Kurto arrived to win a penalty.
Le Fondre went for power, blasting his spot-kick down the middle and in off the crossbar for his 14th goal of the campaign.
The Phoenix pushed hard for an equaliser with substitute Max Burgess having the best chance eight minutes from time, only to shoot straight at Andrew Redmayne.