Football: Wellington Phoenix women suffer third straight defeat as A-League playoff hopes slip away

Maria Speckmaier in action against Central Coast Mariners.
Maria Speckmaier in action against Central Coast Mariners. Photo credit: Getty Images

Wellington Phoenix women have suffered a third straight defeat, falling 2-1 to Central Coast Mariners, as their A-League playoff hopes begin to slip away.

In their third season, the Phoenix rattled off three consecutive wins in October/November to reach the top of the competition table, but have struggled since, losing five of their last eight games - all across the Tasman, all by just one goal.

In three of those contests, they led early, with Emma Main providing a go-ahead goal in the third minute against Mariners, but relinquished that advantage as the games progressed. 

"It's pretty emotional at the moment," said coach Paul Temple. "It's hard to get true clarity on what's going on in the games, especially tonight. 

"I just feel for the supporters. They’re spending a lot of money coming to watch us play and travelling around Australia.

"We can hear them from the sideline, but we’re not really giving them anything to cheer about at the moment. We’re a team that's lacking in confidence in our ability to navigate through games, and to really find our rhythm and our identity at the moment - that's the most disappointing thing for me." 

The result leaves the Phoenix in fourth on the table, 10 points behind leaders Melbourne City, but they may well slide outside top-six playoff contention by the end of the weekend, with six teams lagging within three points behind.

"We had lots of discussions through the week about being a team that can fight, scrap and win battles when we need to, and be a team that can play good football and play through teams when we need do, and having to have the balance between the two.

"We were absolutely nowhere near that balance again tonight. We weren’t good enough defensively and we weren’t good enough offensively either. so there’s a lot of soulsearching to be done."

The Wellington women visit tabletoppers Melbourne City next Saturday.