Wellington Phoenix were denied a much-needed win as Western Sydney Wanderers rallied in an action-packed 2-2 A-League draw at WIN Stadium in Wollongong.
A makeshift Phoenix side seemed set to kick-start their stuttering campaign before the in-form Wanderers found another gear in the second half.
While both sides had chances to win it, the point lifted the Phoenix off the bottom of the ladder, while the Wanderers missed an opportunity to move to second.
Three goals in eight second-half minutes saw the shares spoiled after Phoenix youngster Mirza Muratovic had put the New Zealanders ahead early on.
The Phoenix seemed well placed for victory for lengthy periods before Kwame Yeboah drew the side’s level on 71 minutes and substitute Bruce Kamau then put the Wanderers in front.
The Wanderers’ lead lasted just three minutes as Louis Fenton drew the Phoenix level with a close-range header.
The two sides went into the contest in vastly-contrasting form, with the Wanderers unbeaten in their previous six matches, while the Phoenix had garnered just one win from six matches.
Both sides had a host of personal alterations, with Phoenix coach Ufuk Talay making six changes to his matchday squad in an attempt to arrest their run of outs.
The Phoenix also lost experience with seasoned defender Luke DeVere set for a lengthy spell on the sidelines with a knee injury, while forward David Ball sat out with suspension.
Most surprisingly, New Zealand’s unopposed first-choice goalkeeper Stefan Marinovic was among those left out.
The Wanderers were without the likes of injured James Troisi and suspended midfielder Graham Dorrans.
Playmaker Ulises Davila was at the heart of many of the Phoenix’s best attacking moments and the Mexican helped break the deadlock by threading a pass through the heart of the defence, setting up Muratovic for the opener.
Young gun Rene Piscopo crashed a crafty half-volley against the upright from outside the box as the Phoenix had far the better of the opening exchanges.
Wanderers forward Yeboah, making a rare start, forced a couple of decent saves out of opposition goalkeeper Oli Sail during the opening half.
The Wanderers started the second period with renewed intensity but goalscoring chances were at a premium until Yeboah was on the end of a training-ground free-kick to equalise.
Ben Waine seemed to have restored Phoenix’s lead within a minute but the young forward had drifted offside before receiving Cameron Devlin’s pass as the action turned chaotic.
Kamau turned in Daniel Wilmering’s perfectly weighted cross as the Wanderers took the lead for the first time, only for Fenton to equalise with Davila again the instigator.