A late Ben Sigmund header has earned Wellington Phoenix a crucial 1-0 A-League win over Perth Glory at Westpac Stadium on Saturday.

The winner in the 85th minute was the only bright spot in an otherwise scrappy and often ill-tempered encounter at Westpac Stadium where chances for either side were few and far between.

The Phoenix finished the match with 10 men after substitute Mirjan Pavlovic was sent off for cynically tackling Steve Pantelidis from behind deep in stoppage-time.

All the talk pre-match had been about the possibility of Paul Ifill breaking Shane Smeltz's Phoenix goal-scoring record of 21.

But Ifill had one of his quietest games, as did Glory striker Smeltz who has had a habit of scoring against his former club.

In the end it was Sigmund, who rose high above the Glory defence to head home Leo Bertos' corner, that finally woke up the crowd.

Perth started brightly and were at their most threatening in the opening 15 minutes when Liam Miller and Josh Mitchell both had opportunities to open the scoring.

Sloppy defending by Phoenix left-back Tony Lochhead in the first minute should have been punished by Miller.

Then in the 12th minute Mitchell managed to get a foot to Mile Sterjovski's ball into the box, forcing a save from Tony Warner.

That seemed to spark the Phoenix into life but after a headed half-chance for Dani Sanchez, who replaced Nicky Ward in the starting line-up, Wellington couldn't hold on to the ball long enough to create any other meaningful chances until Tim Brown's shot just before half-time forced a save from Danny Vukovic.

Any balls crossed into the Perth box were dealt with easily by Seb van den Brink and at the other end Sigmund and Andrew Durante kept Smeltz and Andrezinho quiet.

Instead it was the tackles that started flying thick and fast with Paul Ifill, Lochhead and Brown all booked before the break.

There was several minutes delay to play early in the second half while Vukovic received treatment on his left ankle.

But he showed no ill-effects as he sprang to his right to cover a superbly struck free-kick from Sanchez moments later, which just curled past the upright.

The free-kick was a result of Todd Howarth tugging on Leo Bertos' shirt as he ran towards goal and earned the Glory player a yellow card.

Phoenix immediately had a lucky escape when Van den Brink's ball in from the right was missed by Warner but Mitchell's striker came back of Brown's foot and the ball was scrambled clear.

Pavlovic's dogged determination up front earned the Phoenix a corner with five minutes of regular time to go and Sigmund's goal ignited a frantic and drama-filled close to a match that had meandered along until that point.

Wellington Phoenix 1 (Ben Sigmund 85)
Perth Glory 0