Ten minutes later and it was Le Fondre’s turn to spurn a sitter. Ghoochannejhad turned provider only for the English marksman to spray his volley wide from close range.
A stanza later and it was the Iranian international to bemoan his luck. From an acute angle, Ghoochannejhad sought to curl in a left-foot shot and beat Kurto but the ball cannoned off the post towards safety.
The Sky Blues showed signs of fragility against the run of play. Wellington hit the back of the net through Michal Kopczynski, after he pounced on a loose ball, but his celebrations were cut short by an astute linesman, noticing the slightest of offsides.
The Phoenix couldn’t catch a break and suffered a bitter self-inflicted wound. A collision between Dylan Fox and Andrew Durante left Fox in agony, and he was stretchered off with a suspected long-term ankle injury.
Despite a rugged playing surface that looked more like a beach than a football pitch at times – such was the amount of sand that went flying with every bit of contact – both sides sought to play the game with poise, patience and purpose. Neither side cared to slow down the pace of the match nor did they seek to congest the middle of the park, making for an open and free-flowing affair.
With so much space, Sydney threw veteran Alex Brosque into the contest after the hour mark. With one of his first touches, Sydney’s captain made the difference. While attempting to round Kurto, Brosque was brought tumbling down inside the box, giving referee Shaun Evans little choice but to award Sydney a penalty that was far less debatable than the one they earned last week.
From 11 yards, Le Fondre thumped a powerful shot into the back of the net via the crossbar.
The Phoenix responded by throwing numbers forward. Their back five became a three while their forward line contained four as desperation crept in yet. In doing so, they so nearly found a way back into the match, with Roy Krishna probing between the lines but finding no way past Sydney’s own last-gasp defending.
Sydney FC substitute Danny De Silva should have sealed the win with a tap-in during injury time but it was blocked on the line by Kopczynski.
Dominic Bossi is a football reporter with The Sydney Morning Herald.