Wellington coach Ernie Merrick has taken issue with the number of times Roly Bonevacia is fouled, believing the star midfielder is being unfairly targeted by opposition teams.
Bonevacia is the most fouled player in the A-League, according to the Phoenix, with a tally of 28 after eight rounds.
The Dutchman regularly attracts multiple defenders at once due to his ability to perform Houdini-esque escapes where there is seemingly no space.
But after he was fouled five times in 81 minutes in Thursday night's goalless away draw with Sydney FC, Merrick removed Bonevacia to avoid more damage.
The coach lamented the creative midfielder had been "marked out of the game" in a controversial match including 43 fouls and eight yellow cards.
"At some stage referees have got to realise that key players in the game can't be repeatedly fouled," he said.
"It just spoils the spectacle, and if it works then teams are going to do that.
"I was really disappointed how many times he was fouled.
"I had to take him off at the end, he was pretty battered and bruised from behind.
Fellow midfielder Albert Riera won the most fouls of the match with seven to take his season tally up to 25, the same number as Brisbane Roar's Thomas Broich.
Merrick was otherwise happy to take a point and far more pleased with his side's performance than he was in last weekend's 2-1 defeat to the Wanderers.
It came as he was forced to fly in Vince Lia, who's still recovering from a hamstring strain, after badly concussed defender Ben Sigmund was sent home to New Zealand.
Sigmund's departure forced the coach to make alterations.
"To give you an idea how happy I was, the back line I had concerns about because Tom Doyle hasn't played for three weeks in the left-back position, Justin (Gulley) that's his fourth game ever in the A-League, Manny (Muscat) is usually a full-back and he played at centre-back.
"But I thought they did a magnificent job, and Albert Riera in front of them was outstanding.
"Our defence was solid, our midfield really won the ball well, we just didn't hold the ball in the front third well to create enough chances.
"I wanted the boys to compete much better than they did against the Wanderers, and they did all I asked - apart from scoring a couple of goals."