Wellington Phoenix coach Ufuk Talay is disappointed his side couldn't seal a finals spot, after a 1-0 defeat to the Western Sydney Wanderers on Friday night.
The Phoenix needed just one point to secure a place in the A-League top six, but they will have to wait a few more days, after suffering their eighth loss of the season.
Talay felt his side got off to a strong start, but lost their momentum midway through the first half, when a dangerous tackle from Louis Fenton left Wanderers player Nicolai Muller with a suspected facial fracture.
In the second half, the Phoenix were reduced to 10 men, after Luke DeVere was shown a second yellow card for a dangerous tackle.
"I'm disappointed with the result," says Talay. "I thought we started off well and had an opportunity, when [David] Ball hit the post.
"But I think the injury caused a bit of a delay and that broke our momentum.
"I thought we came to life when we went to 10-men and I think we could have got something out of the game at the end of the day.
"It doesn't help going down to 10 men with one less player on the park, but the boys did well, they embraced it, they looked to get the equaliser and pushed very hard."
Talay is quick to leap to the defence of Fenton, after Wanderers coach Jean-Paul de Marigny said the Phoenix defender should have been sent off, instead of receiving just a yellow card.
"Louis is not that type of player," Talay said. "I think it was a 50-50.
"Maybe he was a little bit late with the challenge, but the referee made a call and played on the advantage, and they had an opportunity.
"But Louis is not that type of player where he comes into the challenge with any malice."
The loss saw the Phoenix slip back down to third on the standings and opens the door for Melbourne City to solidify second place, when they face Sydney FC on Saturday night.
The Phoenix still need just one point to secure a spot in the top six and have two games remaining, their next on Wednesday night when they face the Brisbane Roar.
They will be without DeVere for that match due to his sending off.
"We're still pushing for it [second place]," Talay adds. "We've got two more games to go and anything is possible in football.
"We just need to win our games that are in front of us and whatever happens, happens."
Join us for live updates of the Phoenix v Brisbane Roar A-League match from 9:30pm Wednesday