A-League: Gary Hooper's late goal snatches draw for Wellington Phoenix against Brisbane

The Wellington Phoenix have secured a spot in the A-League playoffs, after Gary Hooper's late goal secured a 1-1 draw against the Brisbane Roar. 

Trailling into the final 10 minutes, the Phoenix looked in danger of slipping down the competition table, with Brisbane leapfrogging over them into third.

Hooper's second-chance effort salvaged a deadlock at fulltime, but Wellington's hopes of a top-two finish took a hit, with much still to play for over the final weeks of the regular season.

The Phoenix can probably count themselves unlucky not to win this contest, given their dominance, especially during the second half.

They had several chances to open the scoring over the first 45 minutes. From a corner, captain Steven Taylor headed towards goal to force a save from keeper Jamie Young.

With halftime looming, Hooper tried to chip Young with a delicate volley to the far post, only to watch the ball tipped wide by the goalie.

In truth, Young was the difference between the two sides, producing save after save to deny the Phoenix.

Brisbane's best chance came when veteran Scott McDonald had just goalie Stefan Marinovic to beat, but had his shot blocked by a swooping Te Atawhai Hudson-Wihongi, who was in the line-up to replace suspended defender Luke DeVere.

As the second half progressed, the Phoenix began to gain the upper hand, but just could not find a way past Young.

Still struggling to find game fitness after the coronavirus shutdown, star striker Ulises Davila enjoyed a threatening period, forcing two free-kicks and pushing a set-piece shot past the post.

As the Phoenix regrouped from their narrow misses, McDonald snatched a go-ahead goal at the other end, curling a left foot past the diving Marinovic.

Wellington continued to press, with Hooper missing another royal chance, as he failed to control an awkwardly bouncing ball across the face of goal.

Coach Ufuk Talay used his bench to good affect and substitue Alex Rufer sparked the equaliser, finding Liberato Cacace on the far post. 

Cacace's header beat Young, rebounding off the right post, before Hooper pounced to slot the ball home.

The draw is enough to retain third on the table, but the Phoenix would now need to win their final game against Newcastle Jets and hope Melbourne City lose both their remaining fixtures to climb into second.

Wellington Phoenix 1 (Hooper 82') Brisbane Roar 1 (McDonald 61')

Join us next Thursday for live updates of the Wellington Phoenix v Newcastle Jets A-League clash

A-League: Gary Hooper's late goal snatches draw for Wellington Phoenix against Brisbane