Adelaide United extended their A-League unbeaten run to seven games with a 3-1 home win over Central Coast.
The result extends the gap between sixth-placed Adelaide and the seventh placed Wellington to four points, meaning the Phoenix remained outside the top six playoff places
Sunday night's loss to the Jets in Newcastle.
Central Coast remain firmly rooted to the bottom of the table.
Evergreen striker Pablo Sanchez' glancing header off a James Jeggo corner handed the Adelaide a vital second goal in the 80th minute of last night's clash at Coopers Stadium.
Substitute Mate Dugandzic put the icing on the cake in the 90th minute, running onto a Craig Goodwin cross and drilling it into the back of the net.
The improving Mariners came into the game full of confidence after Reds captain and goalkeeper Eugene Galekovic was ruled out with groin soreness.
But his replacement, 18-year-old debutant Daniel Margush, was barely troubled throughout the first half and survived a late surge from the Mariners with just one goal against his name.
"We didn't put the young keeper under any pressure in the first half," Mariners coach Tony Walmsley said.
"We needed to change things and Adelaide were much better than us."
Adelaide coach Guillermo Amor said Galekovic had been rested but declined to say when he would return.
Forward Sergio Cirio, who also failed to take the pitch, could miss up to two weeks with a hamstring strain.
Amor said the see-sawing second half had been nerve-wracking after a first half in which his side dominated possession.
"We had a lot of chances to win before," Amor said.
"When they drew level there were a few nervous and anxious moments.
"Had they closed the game off earlier then it would have again been a lot calmer and a lot easier for them to control it and see it out."
Both sides missed penalties in the first 45 minutes.
First classy Reds midfielder Marcelo Carrusca sent his soaring over the crossbar in the 31st minute and then Mariners winger Fabio Ferreira did the same on the verge of halftime.
Both were previously perfect from the penalty spot in their A-League careers.
Goodwin was eventually rewarded for an excellent game in the 61st minute, breaking the deadlock with a calm finish off a curling Sanchez cross.
But Ferreira came back to haunt his former side with a dazzling equaliser in the 66th minute, his searing finish coming on the end of an impressive Mariners counter-attack.
Central Coast continued to surge after Sanchez put the Reds back in front but ultimately left their push too late.