Surman wins it for Wellington at soaked Sky Stadium

A 95th-minute winner has lifted Wellington Phoenix to club-record heights - on top of the A-League Men table with a fortnight remaining.

Whether it was Finn Surman's first-ever effort or a Roderick Miranda own goal, the late, late breakthrough was enough for a 1-0 win over Melbourne Victory.

With 120 seconds left, the rain-soaked affair looked destined for a gruelling scoreless draw.

That is, until the Nix defender got free of his marker, heading Oskar van Hattum's free kick past Paul Izzo - via Miranda's chest - and sparking wild scenes.

Goalkeeper Alex Paulsen produced a full-pitch sprint and knee-slide in celebration after the goal, which keeps Wellington right in the mix for the first silverware in club history.

The result means the Phoenix (49 points) are three points clear of Central Coast, who play second-bottom Western United on Saturday, when a win will return the Mariners to the summit.

The three points also mean Giancarlo Italiano's side have their highest points tally in a single season - the coach's stated goal of the campaign.

They cannot finish lower than second, locking in their best finish in 17 seasons, and a first home final in nine years.

"I'm stoked now that we're gonna have the opportunity to play at home in front of a Wellington crowd to get to a grand final," Italiano said.

On full time, the team celebrated with the 6,360 faithful who braved the dire day, dancing to unofficial team song Chelsea Dagger.

Italiano, excelling in his first season as a senior coach, was the odd man out, trying to keep a lid on things.

"Right now, they'll be in the change room, they'll be singing and rejoicing, I don't take part in that, that's for them," he said.

"My job is to keep them settled and ready for the next challenge."

A 50mm soaking, including solid rainfall through the match's first hour, scotched hopes of a bumper crowd and a free-flowing game.

With a marquee opponent, a top-two place on the line and a rare Friday night outing, the Phoenix would have hoped of a five-figure turnout.

Still, the high stakes guaranteed a fight, even if the waterlogged pitch made a passing game near impossible.

Afer 35 minutes, Kosta Barbarouses did well to cut back for Ben Old, who scuffed his effort from near the penalty spot, his disappointment obvious.

Ben Old.
Ben Old whips in a cross during the ALM clash against the Victory.

Bruno Fornaroli then displayed superb hold-up play in the middle before releasing Ben Folami, who ruffled the outside netting after racing clear down the left.

Wellington were creating fewer chances, but better ones, with Victory pinging eight first-half shots at Paulsen without putting one on target.

As the rain eased in the second half, the Nix stole the ascendancy, with Surman, Ben Old and Bozhidar Kraev all having opportunities.

On 77 minutes, Fornaroli finally drew a first save from Paulsen after Nicholas Pennington's error gave the marksman a sniff of his 19th goal of the campaign.

Old thought he'd blown a Wellington win in the first minute of added time when he failed to tap in Barbarouses' free kick, which was saved by Izzo and fell at his feet.

That was until Surman's late intervention, which ended Victory's five-match unbeaten run and their hopes of gatecrashing the top two.

"Congratulations to Wellington. They won the game and they get the plaudits and they celebrate tonight," said Victory coach Tony Popovic.

"A game like this, you need your best officials at the game. The best would make some different decisions."

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