The Wellington Phoenix's top four A-League hopes have taken another hit, beaten 2-1 by lowly Brisbane Roar at Suncorp Stadium.
For the second successive game, the Phoenix paid the price for a poor first half, falling two goals behind and leaving themselves too much to do in the second period.
Facing a team which had won just three of its previous 24 matches, this was a golden chance for the Phoenix to take a big step towards hosting a finals match in week one of the playoffs.
Instead, a second straight defeat means they'll finish the weekend outside the A-League's top four with just two regular season matches to go and even their place in the finals still yet to be mathematically confirmed.
The Phoenix started brightly enough, dominating possession and territory with midfielder Mandi coming closest to scoring, his curling effort grazing the right-hand upright on the quarter-hour.
But the home side belied their mediocre campaign by slowly gaining the ascendancy and asking serious questions of the Phoenix defence.
Pre-game rain had made for a slick playing surface which Brisbane used to good effect, playing balls behind a high Phoenix defensive line to their pacy attackers Nicholas D'Agostino and Dylan Wenzel-Halls, who caused constant problems.
When the opening goal came it was as classy as it was inevitable.
The Roar's French attacker Eric Bautheac carried the ball from inside his own half, played a neat one-two with a teammate and ghosted past three defenders before beating Kurto with a delightful dinked finish from a very narrow angle.
Bautheac doubled the lead shortly afterwards with a far simpler goal, tapping in a low cross from D'Agostino with Wellington's defenders caught flat-footed.
On a day where his departure from Wellington was all but confirmed, coach Mark Rudan sought – and received – an immediate second-half response. It took just eight minutes for Steven Taylor, back in the side after two months out with a calf strain, to powerfully head home an Alex Rufer corner and bring the Phoenix back into the game.
Attackers Sarpreet Singh and Cillian Sheridan were introduced as the Phoenix pushed for an equaliser which they should have achieved in the dying moments.
First Sheridan drove a powerful right-footed effort against the post before in-form striker David Williams was put through one-on-one by Singh, rounded Roar goalkeeper Jamie Young but inexplicably placed the ball wide of an empty net.
The Phoenix return home for what now shapes as a crucial Easter Sunday clash with Melbourne City as they aim to exit their mini-slump and revive their top four hopes.
Brisbane Roar 2 (Bautheac 2)
Wellington Phoenix 1 (Taylor)