The Wellington Phoenix remain winless in the A-League - but surely a victory is not far away.

This narrow loss to Melbourne City continued a miserable record in the Victorian capital tonight, where they have only won three matches from 26 attempts.

Ross McCormack's spectacular 69th-minute long-range free kick was the difference, but it was a close-run thing. The visitors created plenty of chances, with Roy Krishna hitting the post and Andrija Kaluderovic failing to take a good second-half opportunity.

But on the evidence of the first three games, this is a significantly different Phoenix team than the often muddled outfit we saw last season. There is a cohesion and structure to their play that hasn't been seen for years, and they dominated possession for long periods in this game.

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It was often a slow, deliberate buildup, but they had the confidence - and ability - to play through Melbourne's press.

Matt Ridenton was impressive in a holding role alongside Goran Paracki, while Michael McGlinchey often found space in the opposition half on a night where Wellington punched above their weight.

But despite tons of possession, the Phoenix struggled to prise open the Melbourne defence.

The match turned in a 10-minute spell in the second half. Kaluderovic should have done better after being released by a pinpoint Dario Vidosic ball, before the home side opened the scoring, probably against the run of play, through former Aston Villa striker McCormack.

Teenage goalkeeper Keegan Smith was disappointed with the goal, and Wellington's wall was almost non-existent, allowing McCormack an unfettered strike, though Smith later made an excellent save from Nick Fitzgerald.

Melbourne City 1 (R McCormack 69)
Wellington Phoenix 0
HT: 0-0