A-League: Mark Rudan frustrated as poor first-half hurts Phoenix against Adelaide

A frustrated Mark Rudan has called out his Wellington Phoenix players, as their quest for a top-four finish in the A-League suffered a setback, with a 3-1 defeat at Adelaide United.

The result moves Adelaide level with Wellington in fourth place, with three regular-season matches remaining. 

The Phoenix will also have to wait another week to secure a playoff spot for the first time since 2015.

Rudan's side was let down by a woeful first-half, which he labelled the worst this season.

"We got beaten in the first 45 minutes - simple as that," Rudan said post-match.

"We went to sleep, that wasn't us. It was probably the worst 45 minutes we've played this season."   

The hosts scored all their goals in a dominant first-half, with an early Michael Marrone header, followed by two goals to young striker Apostolos Stamatelopoulos.

Apostolos Stamatelopoulos.
Apostolos Stamatelopoulos. Photo credit: AAP

Adelaide then played the entire second half with only 10 men, after Stamatelopoulos was sent off for a dangerous tackle. The Phoenix only managed to pull one goal back, through Irish striker Cillian Sheridan. 

"They did us a favour just before halftime, getting a player sent off.   

"We did everything to get ourselves back in the game. Perhaps, had we had scored one earlier, it would've put a lot more pressure on.   

"It's quite disappointing at this time of the season as well."

Adelaide now sits level with Wellington on 37 points in the A-League standings, although Rudan's men remain fourth, courtesy of a superior goal difference.

But with three games to go, it promises to be a thrilling battle for a top-four berth, with Melbourne City just a point further back.

"It's still ours to lose," Rudan added. "All the goals we scored in our last three games are the reason is why we're in this position.

"There are three games to go and we have to move on from this quickly, and we'll do everything in our power to bounce back." 

Rudan also refused to rule out that daylight saving could have had an impact on his team.

Wellington can clinch a playoff berth with a win against the Brisbane Roar on Friday, but can also progress with a Newcastle loss to Perth next Sunday.

Newshub.

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