Surging Wellington Phoenix have exploited Western Sydney's "schoolboy" defending against set pieces and improved their A-League finals hopes while almost certainly keeping Wanderers out of the playoffs for a fourth straight season.

Seventh-placed Phoenix scored two first-half goals from corners in their 2-1 win at Bankwest Stadium on Wednesday.


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David Ball tapped in at the far post in the 24th minute after Wanderers midfielder Graham Dorrans headed a corner onto his own crossbar.

Wanderers' equaliser also came from a corner, with Phoenix failing to fully clear the danger and Keanu Baccus netting after the ball ricocheted around the area.

Phoenix hit the front again in the 42nd minute when Israeli striker Tomor Hemed headed home another corner without being challenged.

The win meant Wellington stretched their unbeaten run to nine games, closing the gap to sixth-placed Brisbane to two points, while Wanderers remained eighth, five points behind Roar, with just two games to play.

"One of their weaknesses this season has been from set pieces and we planned according to how we wanted to deliver and where we wanted to set the players up," Phoenix coach Ufuk Talay said.

Western Sydney have conceded 20 out of 41 goals from set pieces and coach Carl Robinson lambasted his side for their consistent ineptitude in that area, describing their defending from corners on Wednesday as unacceptable and embarrassing.

"At halftime, I said to them, 'you can't defend like that, that is very amateur, that's schoolboy stuff, you don't do that'," Robinson said.

Robinson admitted the season would be regarded as a failure if the club again missed the finals.

Olyroos contender and Phoenix playmaker Reno Piscopo came off after 15 minutes after being on the wrong end of a heavy foul from Ziggy Gordon four minutes earlier.

He left the ground in a sling and went straight to hospital for an X-ray.

"We'll assess him, see what it is and hopefully it's something that doesn't stop him from playing for us and also going away with the Olympic team."

Wellington almost increased their lead in the first couple minutes of the second half, but were denied by three saves from Wanderers' goalkeeper Daniel Margush.

The desperate Wanderers laid siege to the Phoenix goal in the closing stages with Tim Payne making a crucial block from a close range Tate Russell shot in stoppage time.

They had 24 shots to Phoenix's eight but only had two more on target and had 10 attempts blocked by their committed opponents.

"I told them at halftime it wasn't going to be a pretty next 45 to 50 minutes of the second half, they showed a lot of grit a lot of determination," Talay said.

He believes Phoenix will make the top-six if they win their last two games.


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