TURNING games seemingly destined to end in a draw into odd-goal wins has been decisive in the climb by the rejuvenated Wellington Phoenix into the Hyundai A-League's top three.
Comparing the Phoenix with Melbourne Victory - always a team expected to do well - unearths some interesting statistics.
The Phoenix, with three, have had the least draws of the 10 teams in the league. The Victory, with 11, have the most.
By turning games which could have ended level into one-goal wins has earned the Phoenix six of their 11 victories, while the Victory have managed that four times in their only five wins - their biggest win, ironically, 3-1 over the Phoenix.
As the pressure mounts in the rush for play-off spots, the Phoenix have become very much an "in or out" team. They have not drawn a match since that late own goal earned them a 1-1 result against Adelaide United at Eden Park on November 19.
Conversely, they have lost five by the odd goal and the Victory three.
Off-field ructions could hang over Gold Coast United's trip to Wellington for Sunday's clash with the Phoenix.
The league's governing body, Football Federation Australia, late last week slapped the Gold Coast club with a "material breach of their participation agreement". Having "Freedom of Speech" plastered across their shirts and on signs around Skilled Park on Saturday night raised the hackles at FFA headquarters.
The club was given until 5pm on match day to remove them. The club did not comply and the match went ahead.
This latest wrangle continues a series of off-field issues for the club. Coach Miron Bleiberg quit/was dismissed after a stand-off with owner Clive Palmer. And the club are also in dispute with major backer Hyatt who through their Hyatt Regency hotel in Coolum have naming rights on the playing strip.
This week's match of the round will be the Gosford clash between leaders Central Coast Mariners and Sydney FC.
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