BRIAN SCIARETTA - Monday, March 12, 2012
Alex Smith and Wellington Phoenix played to a hard fought draw against Melbourne Heart on Saturday to nearly clinch a spot in the A-League playoffs.

Smith entered the game as a substitute in the 64th minute when he came on for Spaniard Dani Sanchez.

Eli Babalj gave Melbourne a 1-0 lead in the 32nd minute when he headed home a Mate Dugandzic corner kick.

After being outplayed in the first half, Wellington Phoenix came to life in the second half as the pushed for the equalizer.

In the 82nd minute Wellington pulled even when Chris Greenacre found Paul Ifill who drilled a long range shot past Melbourne keeper Clint Bolton to level the score at 1-1.

With the draw, Wellington are tied for third place with 40 points through 25 games. They stay in Melbourne next weekend to face eighth place Melbourne Victory.