Wellington Phoenix coach Ricki Herbert felt his side had thrown away two points rather than won one in their 1-1 draw with Newcastle Jets.
A goal from Louis Fenton in the 21st minute had the Phoenix on course for their first win since December 27 until Emile Heskey headed home an equaliser 16 minutes from time.
It came after Jets defender Sam Gallaway and Wellington left-back Tony Lochhead had both been sent off for second yellow cards.
Gallaway exited in the 55th minute after tripping Tyler Boyd on the edge of the box.
But Lochhead’s dismissal proved to be the most costly as Heskey’s goal came from the free-kick awarded for his foul on James Virgili.
“It was a brain explosion by a player that brought things back level again which should never have happened,” a disappointed Herbert said.
“I kind of thought there was only one team in the game today. I didn’t think we looked threatened at all.
“To defend like that, get a player sent off and don’t deal with a cross … I probably think we threw away two (points) than got one.”
The draw ended a four-match losing streak for the Phoenix but the point still left them sitting at the bottom of the A-League table and four points adrift of the top six with nine rounds to go.
“It’s nine games to go. Sydney got beat. Melbourne Heart got beat. Perth got beat so you keep inching a little bit closer,” Herbert said.
“It’s a chance for us. Hopefully today we’ve stemmed it (the losses), if you want to look at it that way, but we’ve got to go on and get points.”
Wellington play Perth next in Auckland.
“I think the home games are going to be crucially important for us. Hopefully Auckland is kind to us,” Herbert said.
Creating chances hasn’t been the problem for the Phoenix, finishing them has.
It was the same on Sunday as Andrew Durante, Jeremy Brockie and Fenton all squandered opportunities.
“It’s disappointing. I thought we created a lot tonight and I thought the momentum was good,” Herbert said.
“I thought we were quite efficient. I thought we dealt with things a lot better than what we have been dealing with. We got our noses in front and we should have gone and won.”
Brockie is the club’s leading scorer with 10 goals so far this season but hasn’t found the back of the net since the 2-1 loss to Brisbane Roar at Suncorp Stadium on New Year’s Day.
“He had a really good patch of form and he’s probably just tapered off a touch,” Herbert said.
“Sometimes it’s just a yard here or a yard there. I think the crosses were good today. We had chances to get people in the box and his turn will come again.
“He’s got good goals so far … but he’s got to keep getting them for us.”