Roar draw seals Phoenix's A-L finals spot

Wellington Phoenix and Brisbane Roar have battled to a draw in their A-League clash in Newcastle.
Wellington Phoenix and Brisbane Roar have battled to a draw in their A-League clash in Newcastle.

Wellington Phoenix have locked in an A-League finals berth after a spirited 1-1 draw with Brisbane Roar at McDonald Jones Stadium.

Scott McDonald broke the deadlock for Brisbane on Wednesday night with a spectacular individual effort in the 61st minute before Gary Hooper equalised in the 82nd.

The result took Wellington to 41 points, ensuring they cannot drop out of the top six.

"We're pleased with the reaction the players showed tonight," Phoenix coach Ufuk Talay said.

"I think we created enough chances to win the game to be honest; I thought we played well."

Superb saves and blocks from both sides defined the first half with Roar's Jamie Young and his Phoenix counterpart Stefan Marinovic ensuring stalemate at halftime although they did have plenty of help.

On the half hour, Phoenix defender Te Atawhai Hudson-Wihongi saved an almost-certain goal when he flung himself in front of McDonald's close-range shot.

In the 45th minute, Young pulled off a spectacular one-handed save to deny a clever chip from Hooper.

The Phoenix started brighter in the second half but it was McDonald who broke the deadlock.

Jay O'Shea slid a ball through to McDonald, who dribbled away from multiple defenders and cut onto his left foot, ripping a superb effort from the edge of the box for his sixth goal in as many games.

Wellington spurned a golden opportunity to equalise in the 68th minute when Liberato Cacace whipped a ball in from the left but Hooper put his tap-in wide.

The marquee striker made amends 14 minutes later.

A ball into the area was met by Cacace, whose header came back off the post and into the path of Hooper who could not miss.

The Englishman appeared to injure his hamstring while scoring but played out the game with neither team able to snare a winning goal.

Talay said Hooper would be assessed after feeling "tightness" and confirmed defender Tim Payne was sidelined with a hamstring injury.

Wellington play Newcastle in eight days to wrap up their regular season campaign while Brisbane coach Warren Moon was upbeat with a five-day turnaround before their clash with Sydney FC.

"We know we can get better, we know there's a lot of improvement in us and that's what we'll focus on," Moon said of his fourth-placed side.

"We think we acquitted ourselves really well tonight against a very good team."

Australian Associated Press