Perth Glory 2
Next season can't come fast enough for the Wellington Phoenix who limped to their 13th loss of the A-League season against Perth Glory in Wellington tonight.
The Phoenix didn't muster a shot on target until the 92nd minute in a toothless performance which, once again, highlighted their major attacking deficiencies.
Perth went ahead in the 36th minute through a tidy Andy Keogh finish before Diego Costa made the game safe midway through the second half bundling home the rebound after Phoenix keeper Glen Moss couldn't quite clear a one on one.
In the Phoenix's only highlight of the match, left back Tom Doyle rifled home a left footed screamer from the edge of the box with one of the last kicks of the game.
Phoenix coach Ernie Merrick waved the white flag on their 'horrendous' season three weeks ago, but they still had a mathematical chance of making the playoffs if they could secure four wins from their remaining four games after being encouraged by a 3-1 away win last week against Sydney FC. That pipe dream has now been well put to bed.
The Phoenix performance started encouraging, grew tiresome and ended boring, despite the stunning consolation goal. When the ball reached the Perth strikers they looked dangerous, always capable of creating something or getting change out of the Phoenix defence. When the ball reached the Phoenix frontline, it tended to bounce straight back.
Albert Riera had a disappointing game in the middle of midfield, carelessly turning over possession on numerous occasions and lacking accuracy with his passes.
It was Perth's eighth win in nine games and they look a good bet to go deep in the competition as the playoffs approach.
The only real positive for the Phoenix was the performance of Ben Sigmund at the heart of defence. The retiring centreback fought and scrapped for every inch across the Phoenix backline and showed a desire and attitude that has been lacking in his injury-enforced absence.
The good news for the Phoenix is that things can only really get better. The thought of new signing Kosta Barbarouses and Roy Krishna working together next season is exciting and will go some way to detracting from what has been a truly awful season.
How dearly they could have used either of them today.
Perth 2 (Andy Keogh, Diego Costa)
Phoenix 1 (Tom Doyle)