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Wellington Phoenix vow to fight on

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 19/02/2017 Cathy Walshe

Co-coach Des Buckingham says Wellington Phoenix have two choices following their 5-1 thumping by Melbourne City on Saturday.

"We can either sit and sulk and fade away, or we can dig in," a subdued Buckingham said after the loss.

"It's now a massive ask for us for the remaining seven games to push on, but we need to."

With just seven games of the regular season remaining, Wellington have little realistic hope of making the play-offs.

They have recorded four losses and a draw from their last five games, and sit in eighth place with 19 points, five astray of sixth-placed Western Sydney Wanderers.

City took a 2-0 lead into halftime at Westpac Stadium, courtesy of an own goal and striker Bruno Fornaroli.

They added a third in the 60th minute via Anthony Caceres, with Wellington hitting back10 minutes later through a superb individual goal from Kosta Barbarouses.

However, Melbourne finished with a flourish, Neil Kilkenny and Nicolas Colazo adding a goal apiece in the last 10 minutes.

Buckingham described the loss as a big blow to Wellington's season.

"I don't want to sit here and sound like a broken record," he said.

"But we've had the chances to lead the game and dictate how we want to play, and we haven't taken them.

"We've got seven games, and we're not going to let them slip away. We need to kick on."

Wellington travel to Brisbane next week to face a Roar outfit sitting fourth on the ladder, one place behind Melbourne City on goal difference.

They'll receive a much-needed defensive boost with the return of skipper Andrew Durante from suspension, but it's likely right back Jacob Tratt will be absent as he works his way back from an ankle injury.

Striker Roy Krishna, clattered on Saturday in a bruising tackle from Osama Malik, and left back Tom Doyle are also both in doubt.

One thing remains certain, Buckingham says.

"We won't write the season off now. I don't expect any person in that changing room to write off our play-off hopes - not yet. We won't accept that."

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