Wellington Phoenix suffered a double blow at Robina this morning, losing their A-League soccer match to Gold Coast United 2-0 and possibly goalkeeper Mark Paston for the rest of the season.
Bas van den Brink's 21st minute header and a 66th minute strike from James Brown sealed the three points for Gold Coast, who are comfortable in third on 33 points while the Phoenix drop to seventh with 22 and are stuck in a mid-table logjam.
But a likely season-ending knee injury to All Whites goalkeeper Paston was a more significant blow to the Phoenix, with Fox Sports reporting the World Cup hero would probably be out for the rest of the season with a badly torn or even snapped anterior cruciate ligament.
Gold Coast striker Bruce Djite landed hard on Paston's knee in a 42nd minute challenge - there was no fault on the striker's part -- and Paston went down immediately. He was substituted by Danny Vukovic and looked distraught at halftime as Phoenix team management tried to comfort him.
Paston, who turns 34 tomorrow, has a recent history of injuries and has been taking his football career on a season-by-season basis.
To cap a poor night for the inconsistent Phoenix, who are yet to discover any sort of form on the road, captain Andrew Durante picked up a fifth yellow card of the season and will be suspended for next Saturday's home match against the Newcastle Jets.
The Phoenix started promisingly enough and should have taken the lead early when Chris Greenacre, in up front for the injured Nick Ward, missed a gilt-edged chance. Daniel provided a pinpoint cross but Greenacre, with the goal wide open from about 2m, glanced his header well wide.
The visitors continued to dominate possession and territory in the first half but they gifted the ball away at crucial times and they lacked cutting edge whereas Gold Coast looked dangerous, particularly from set pieces as the Phoenix failed to pick up runners.
The opening goal, from a Gold Coast corner, therefore came as no surprise.
Jason Culina whipped in a good ball and defender van den Brink outjumped Durante to head home off the near post, which was left unguarded. A defender on the post would have easily cleared the ball away.
More below-par defending at set piece time led to Gold Coast's second goal, in the 66th minute. The Phoenix failed to clear from a free kick and left several players unmarked as the ball dropped to Brown to finish easily from 3m.
Paul Ifill had a good chance to drag a goal back for the visitors but his shot was saved by All Whites goalkeeper Glen Moss, who was otherwise untroubled despite the Phoenix continuing to have plenty of possession.
Phoenix assistant coach Luc Trani, in charge with coach Ricki Herbert suspended, injected Marco Rojas and Leo Bertos with little effect as Herbert watched forlornly from the stands on a night to forget for Wellington.
Gold Coast United 2 (Bas van den Brink, James Brown) Wellington Phoenix 0. Halftime: 1-0.