Wellington's Tim Brown produced a signature late header to end the Phoenix's away drought and rub salt into Gold Coast's wounds on Sunday night.
In a match full of wasted chances at both ends, it was New Zealand international Brown who dramatically broke the stalemate in the 88th minute.
The All Whites midfielder stepped up for a perfect finish from Daniel's curling free kick to give his side the three points in front of another terribly-low Coast crowd of 2135.
It lifted Wellington (24) one point from the top three behind a stumbling Melbourne Heart and also gave them a first win in Australia since last season's 1-0 win in Adelaide on February 5.
"It gets that little monkey off your back and it's that type of competition where it's so tough and tight that points are going to be very important away," relieved Phoenix coach Ricki Herbert said.
Herbert "rolled the dice" by replacing incumbent keeper Tony Warner with fit-again All White Mark Paston and asking Nick Ward to play with an ankle problem.
He justifiably praised Paston for a return that featured a number of crucial saves but no more than frustrated Coast coach Miron Bleiberg.
"Every goalkeeper that comes here is man of the match. It was (the Heart's Clint) Bolton last week and it was Paston this week," Bleiberg said.
"If any goalkeeper wants to advance his career he should ask his coach to play Gold Coast at Skilled Park because we will give him lots of chances to prove himself and we don't score."
Miked-up in a Fox Sports innovation, Bleiberg was left almost speechless at times as his men failed to produce a killer blow.
The ramifications are dire for the last-placed club (14) as they now sit five points from the top six and four from ninth-placed Newcastle.
Rubbing salt into the Coast's wounds, striker Dylan Macallister reaggravated his hamstring injury in his comeback match.
Macallister lasted just 14 minutes after returning off the bench and is now facing another three weeks on the sidelines.
Bleiberg lamented the loss was typical of United's luckless season.
"You can't ask for a better script to exactly describe Gold Coast United of 2011-12," he said.
"We're shooting a lot, we're defending well and we're losing.
"That's our season."