Wellington's A-League suspension merry-go-round will continue against high-flying Brisbane, while an injury to crucial striker Roy Krishna may further cruel the struggling side's chances.
Albert Riera will be back from his one-match ban to face the Roar at home next Sunday, but fellow midfielders Roly Bonevacia and Alex Rodriguez now have to serve suspensions, having received their fifth yellow cards in New Year's Eve's controversial 3-1 loss to Central Coast.
Coach Ernie Merrick said it was typical of the Phoenix's recent treatment by referees, whom he thought consistently handed his side more yellow cards than opponents despite conceding less fouls.
Wellington conceded 15 fouls to the Mariners' 25 in Thursday night's niggly affair at Central Coast Stadium.
They were shown five yellow cards, while Central Coast copped four.
"Once again Roly Bonevacia is tackled non-stop and no yellow cards against him, he nicks a tackle and gets a yellow card," said Merrick, who was scathing after the match about Roy O'Donovan's headbutt on Manny Muscat.
"Last week we got a red card. We were the only two yellow cards in the whole game, and it was our player Albert Riera.
"So we're doing it tough at the moment, especially with all these road trips.
"You try and talk to the officials and it's like you're not there, so I can't do anything about it.
"I'm a bit disappointed that things aren't improving. We've got so many yellow cards, and we're frequently the team that commits less fouls.
"Having said that, we've got to start winning games, and consistently."
The latest result - their fourth winless match - could see the Phoenix slip out of the top six before the round is through, depending on other results.
Of prime concern to Merrick is Krishna, whom he said will probably not face Brisbane after he twisted his ankle and was subbed off after half an hour.
With six goals from 13 games, the Fijian flyer is the Phoenix's main attacking threat.
There's a chance Jeffrey Sarpong (thigh strain) may make his return, though the former Dutch youth international is still yet to score in the A-League.
Defenders Louis Fenton (ankle) and Ben Sigmund (hip) are also in question.
"But we really are struggling up front when Roy Krishna's not playing," Merrick said.
"To lose him early on is pretty tough."