Adelaide United 0
Wellington Phoenix 1
It was one small step for Chris Greenacre but a giant leap for the Wellington Phoenix last night.
Greenacre grabbed his seventh goal of the season in a rare start but, more importantly, the Phoenix picked up three points that all but confirmed their passage to the playoffs.
They remain sixth but are four points ahead of the Melbourne Heart with a game in hand. The Phoenix round off the regular season with an almost-bankable three points at home to a disintegrating North Queensland Fury, which takes some of the pressure off Wednesday's away game against a resurgent Sydney.
It's just as well, because midfielder Vince Lia limped off with a hamstring strain in the first half and captain Andrew Durante picked up his eighth yellow card of the season and will have to spend the next two games on the naughty step. It's where both Ben Sigmund and Manny Muscat spent last night and the pair still have one more game to sit out, which will stretch coach Ricki Herbert's midfield and defensive options.
The back four had their moments last night but the record books will show a fifth clean sheet in nine games. They rode their luck at times, none more so when Jade North cleared a goal-bound shot onto his own crossbar before it was cleared to safety but, when it's your night, it's your night.
The Phoenix haven't had many in Australia this season, having previously picked up just five points out of a possible 39.
Adelaide has been the unhappiest hunting ground of all. Not only had the Phoenix only ever earned a point at Hindmarsh Stadium in four seasons but it is also where they have suffered some of their biggest defeats (6-1, 4-1, 3-0).
But they made history on a night when they also brought up their century of A-League matches.
Greenacre's 34th-minute goal was a cracker. Marco Rojas whipped in a brilliantly teasing cross from the right and Greenacre launched himself at the ball to head home from six yards.
Rojas is a principal reason Wellington are now in this position. The teenager plays with the sort of flair and creativity not normally seen in a New Zealander and has helped spark a late-season revival.
Wellington had plenty of chances with Greenacre and Dylan Macallister coming close and Nick Ward and Tim Brown stinging the gloves of Adelaide goalkeeper Eugene Galekovic but Adelaide might have scored three on another night.
They found holes in the Wellington defence but a combination of good goalkeeping, last-ditch defending and wasteful finishing meant they remained scoreless.
The defeat was a serious blow to their hopes of a top-two finish in the league and a second life in the playoffs.
Wellington could well find themselves back in Adelaide in a fortnight for a sudden-death playoff. It will be a daunting prospect but, as last night showed, not impossible.