Victory downed by Phoenix

Melbourne Victory has suffered its first loss against Wellington Phoenix after coughing up an early lead in Friday night's Hyundai A-League clash in New Zealand.

Melbourne Victory has suffered its first loss against Wellington Phoenix after coughing up an early lead in Friday night's Hyundai A-League clash in New Zealand.

In front of a crowd of nearly 8,000 at Westpac Stadium, Melbourne went down 2-1 despite Danny Allsopp giving Victory a first half lead with his seventh goal of the season.

The loss ended a three-match winning streak for Melbourne but despite the defeat Victory remains on top of the ladder although Adelaide can join them in equal top spot if it beats Newcastle on Sunday.

Melbourne went into the match with the record of two wins and two draws in its previous four encounters against the Phoenix and looked set to continue that dominance in the first half.

Even before Allsopp gave Melbourne the lead in the 21st minute, Victory had threatened on several occasions with Tom Pondeljak forcing Phoenix keeper Mark Paston into a diving save in the 18th minute.

Just a minute later Allsopp almost scored with a header from a Pondeljak cross and when Paston saved again from the resultant corner, after he tipped over Allsopp's intital header, a Melbourne goal seemed inevitable.

It duly came just a minute later when Ney Fabiano rose superbly from Billy Celeski's corner and thundered a header into the post.

The rebound fell nicely for Allsopp who headed home his seventh goal of the season.

But Melbourne's lead was short-lived as the home side equalised within a minute.

Victory paid a heavy price for failing to clear a free kick as Wellington midfielder Tim Brown lashed home an unstoppable shot from the edge of the area.

The remainder of the first half was relatively even but the home side again took control of the match when the second half got underway.

After Tony Lochhead had shot wide in the 54th minute, Wellington's in-form striker Shane Smeltz gave the Phoenix the lead with a superb individual goal in the 58th minute.

Smeltz not only gave himself space to shoot with a great turn but then lashed an unstoppable right foot shot past Melbourne keeper Michael Theoklitos from the edge of the area.

It was Smeltz's ninth goal of the season taking him past Central Coast's Matt Simon and making him the outright leading scorer in the A-League this season.

Smeltz has now scored a phenomenal nine of Wellington's 13 goals for the season and he almost scored a second in the 72nd minute but shot over the bar.

However Melbourne finished the game stronger but just could not come up with an equaliser as Archie Thompson shot straight at Paston in the 77th minute while second half substitute Carlos Hernandez, who was impressive when he came on, shot across the goal from an almost impossible angle in the 80th minute with Paston stranded.

But the Kiwis hung on to record their a third successive win for the first time in their brief A-League history and temporarily move into the top four as Melbourne now faces the task of returning to winning form when it visits bottom side Perth Glory next week.

Wellington Phoenix 2 (Brown 22', Smeltz 58') Melbourne Victory 1 (Allsopp 21') @ Westpac Stadium. Crowd: 7953