Western Sydney Wanderers revived their top-six ambitions with a gritty 1-0 win over Wellington Phoenix despite a nasty injury to Nicolai Muller.
A sickening head clash left Western Sydney Wanderers' attacker Nicolai Muller heavily concussed and partly overshadowed a season-reviving 1-0 win over Wellington Phoenix at Parramatta on Friday.
It was shaping as a fourth draw in as many matches for the Wanderers before Kwame Yeboah guided home a neat header with 17 minutes remaining against the ten-man Phoenix.
Yeboah came on during the first half for the stricken Muller who was taken out by a reckless charge from Phoenix defender Louis Fenton which resulted in a clash of heads.
Fenton, who arguably should have been dismissed for the challenge, received only a caution having already escaped sanction for a careless tackle in the opening minutes of the match.
Wanderers coach Jean-Paul De Marigny was in no doubt that Fenton should have seen red for the challenge which left German import Muller severely bruised and needing scans for possible fractures.
"The incident happened and then it warrants the punishment, which is someone else's responsibility," De Marigny said.
"Our responsibilities are to look after the players."
De Marigny described Muller as "not in a good place" after the match.
The result lifts the Wanderers to within four points of sixth-placed Adelaide United with three matches remaining.
A match of few goalscoring opportunities failed to reach any heights with few goalscoring opportunities, and the high-flying Phoenix were largely stymied by a well-organised Wanderers.
The Wanderers looked set for a fourth draw in succession until Yeboah made the crucial contribution.
Just minutes earlier, Yeboah's pace caused Luke DeVere to earn a second caution leaving the visitors to play out the final 25 minutes a player short.
"It was a great performance, very disciplined and resembled where we finished ahead of the (break for the) pandemic," said De Marigny."
Phoenix striker David Ball was hugely unlucky not to break the deadlock in just the third minute, only for his curled shot from the edge of the penalty area to hit both posts and bounce perilously close to crossing the line.
The in-form Phoenix went into the match on a run of just one defeat in seven matches, but appeared flat after the six-minute stoppage for the injury to Muller.
"Louis (Fenton) is not that type of player," Phoenix coach Ufuk Talay said in regard to the incident which caused Muller's injury.
"It was pretty much a 50-50 (challenge), maybe he was a little bit late but the referee made a call on it and allowed an advantage to be played.
"I thought we started off well, but the injury caused a delay and I thought it broke our momentum."