A second-half header from Newcastle Jets striker Emile Heskey denied Wellington Phoenix a much-needed win in a 1-1 draw at Westpac Stadium.
Both sides ended the physical encounter with 10 men after Jets defender Sam Gallaway and Phoenix left-back Tony Lochhead each picked up two yellow cards to earn early baths.
Lochhead’s departure was the more costly of the two as Heskey scored the Jets’ equaliser from the resulting free-kick given for a foul on James Virgili.
That scrambled goal in the 74th minute cancelled out Louis Fenton’s 21st-minute effort for Wellington and leaves them still stuck at the bottom of the A-League ladder.
After last week’s capitulation the Phoenix had promised to show the grit, determination and fighting spirit they have produced since joining the A-League in 2007.
Paul Ifill, who replaced Stein Huysegems for his first start since ankle surgery, made a big difference for the Phoenix.
Ifill is the Phoenix’s talisman for a reason and set up Fenton’s goal with a great touch that wrong-footed Scott Neville after another superb long ball from Sigmund.
Ifill’s cross into the box for Dani Sanchez was pinpoint and although keeper Mark Birighitti got a hand to it he was only able to punch it into Sanchez with Fenton pouncing on the ricochet to slide home and score.
Jets pair Galloway and Taylor Regan and Wellington’s Lochhead were all booked in the first half and Galloway was given his marching orders by referee Ben Williams in the 55th minute for a second yellow card.
The defender had tussled with Tyler Boyd constantly down his left flank and his cynical trip on the forward on the edge of the box left Williams with no alternative.
Lochhead’s game also ended early after he brought down Virgili in the 72nd minute to earn his second yellow and from the resulting free-kick Heskey equalised.
Mark Paston failed to clear Virgili’s initial header at the back post and Heskey out-jumped the Phoenix ‘keeper to nod home.
Fenton then had a chance to claim all three points but could not scramble the ball past Birighitti who made a save on the line.
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