Wellington Phoenix coach Ricki Herbert says his side matched Brisbane Roar, despite going down 2-1 at Suncorp Stadium on Tuesday.
Brisbane went ahead in the first half through Besart Berisha, only to be pegged back by Wellington courtesy of a Jeremy Brockie wonder-strike before the break.
Ben Halloran’s goal for the hosts in the second period was enough to take the three points and add to Phoenix’s difficulties away from home.
Phoenix had Tyler Boyd sent off for a second yellow card soon after Halloran’s goal, and Brisbane defender James Donachie joined him six minutes before time, also for a second yellow.
Herbert struggled to find positives on a night in which he says his side should have converted several early chances, and two of his players suffered injury scares.
Leo Bertos had to leave the pitch late on after a head clash with Nick Fitzgerald, and Alex Smith will also be examined by doctors after receiving a blow to the cheekbone.
“We certainly had good signs in the first half. I thought we had some really good opportunities to maybe get ourselves well in front,” Herbert said.
“It’s tough coming here with 11, and if you get one sent off as well, it certainly didn’t help at the end.
“From our perspective I think the cards kind of dictate the flow of the game at certain stages, but I think we were probably equal, and I’m not sure we’ve been like that in other years.
“We’ve got two players who might have cracked cheekbones or something, so we’ll wait and see,” he said.
Brockie’s gorgeous goal, cracked into the top right corner from long range, as well as his continued good form, offered some consolation for the Phoenix coach.
“It was a great strike. A terrific goal by Jeremy and puts him top, equal now with Danny McBreen, so he’s having a very good season for us,” Herbert said.
“I’m delighted for him. I think he’s worked really hard through pre-season, so it takes that edge off it.”
Herbert said his team would need to regroup and prepare for the team’s next match, away to Melbourne Victory on Saturday.
“There’s a lot of football to be played,” he said.
“For us it’s just recovering as quickly as we can tomorrow. We’ve got a few bodies in there that are probably going to struggle to come up for it, so hopefully we’ve got some good replacements at home to bring over.
“I think the league’s a bit like that. You’ve got to put a little run together. It’s tight in there, so it’s all up for grabs, that’s for sure,” Herbert said.