Adelaide United coach Rini Coolen was welcomed to the real world of Hyundai A-League football as he watched his side succumb to a gritty Wellington Phoenix 1-0 at Hindmarsh Stadium on Saturday night.

Minutes after losing to the Phoenix - in their 100th league outing - Coolen was blaming the hectic playing schedule for the loss which ended their chance of making the top two for the playoffs.

He was not alone in bemoaning the fact that the South Australians were playing their second game in four days after the midweek away draw with Gold Coast United. The Fox Sports commentary team constantly beefed about the "fatigue factor" as an excuse for United's mediocre performance.

But Phoenix coach Ricki Herbert could point to his schedule, which is every bit as tough and more often much harder given the constant transtasman travel.

Herbert refuses to blame the schedule, saying, "You know what is, just get on with it."

And they did.

After early chances at both ends, the Phoenix went ahead in the 35th minute when livewire Marco Rojas, in perhaps his best away performance, fired in a pin-point cross. It proved to be the only goal and earned the visitors their welcome first win in Adelaide.

"First of all you have to prepare your team properly after a really hard schedule," said Coolen." To be honest I was a little worried before the game. I think my team was not ready to play another game again. But we have to do it, everybody has to do it."

Wellington goalkeeper Daniel Vukovic was delighted with the win that took the team one step closer to sealing sixth place and a finals berth.

"It's always good to keep a clean sheet, especially away from home," Vukovic said. "We haven't done too well away from home, so it was good to get that goal and defend the lead."

Again, the win came at a cost with captain Andrew Durante copping his eighth yellow card of the season and a mandatory two-match suspension which will sideline him for the midweek game against Sydney FC and the regular season finale against North Queensland.

Durante was hard done by in a game in which referee Matthew Breeze also booked Tim Brown and Dylan Macallister. Troy Hearfield was also booked for a tackle but minutes earlier Breeze had waved play on when Travis Dodd committed a similar offence on a Phoenix player.