Ten-man Blackpool made sure Ian Holloway's return ended in defeat as they beat Crystal Palace to secure a result that has implications at both ends of the table.
With Hull and Watford not playing until Tuesday night, Palace could have moved to within three points of the second-placed Tigers but they were undone by Phillips' 85th-minute strike, despite playing against 10 men for 48 minutes.
Phillips stole the points for the Seasiders as he curled a delightful effort past Julian Speroni as Paul Ince's men earned a win that does their chances of survival the world of good.
Despite Blackpool's win, their first at home under Ince, they remain firmly in the relegation dogfight that engulfs the entire bottom half of the table.
Palace were reliant on goalkeeper Speroni to keep them on level terms inside the first 10 minutes when he provided some fine reflexes to keep out Nathan Delfouneso's effort.
Blackpool keeper Matt Gilks denied Wilfried Zaha and then Damien Delaney fired over from the resulting corner.
Blackpool responded and Speroni was forced to make an even better save, again from Delfouneso, as the Argentinian got down superbly to deny the home striker.
But the wind was knocked out of the hosts' sails three minutes before the break as Barry Ferguson saw red for two yellow cards, the second coming after a cynical foul on Yannick Bolasie.
Glenn Murray had Palace's first chance of the second half, but he could not make enough contact with his header from Jonathan Parr's cross.
Palace continued to control the game and Zaha drifted a ball in to Murray, but the top scorer shot into the side-netting from a narrow angle.
And then they were hit with the ultimate sucker-punch as Phillips picked up the ball and curled a 20-yard effort home for his first goal since October.