Central Coast Mariners returned to winning ways via a narrow 1-0 victory over Sydney FC in their Hyundai A-League round 9 encounter at Bluetongue Stadium on Saturday night.
A classic first half goal to Daniel McBreen helped the home side record their first home win since Phil Moss’ appointment as Mariners Head Coach following Graham Arnold’s departure to J.League side Vegalta Sendai.
The victory lifted Central Coast – albeit potentially temporarily – to fourth place in the ten team league, with the Mariners still having a game in hand over their rivals following their deferred fixture from Hyundai A-League round 6.
The game started at a sound tempo and Sky Blues midfielder Nick Carle came close to opening the account for Frank Farina’s charges in the 12th minute as he fired a long range effort towards the top corner. However, former Sydney shot stopper Liam Reddy reacted sharply to tip the strike over the bar.
Central Coast found their feet shortly after with young guns Storm Roux and Mitchell Duke combining before Matthew Jurman’s shank fell fortuitously to gloveman Vedran Janjetovic.
The Mariners found their rhythm and were rewarded for their positive play in the 26th minute as McBreen broke the deadlock. Left back Joshua Rose provided a great pass to the Hyundai A-League 2012/13 Golden Boot winner who stunningly flicked the ball into the back of the net to secure his first goal of the season.
Shortly before half time the home side could have doubled their advantage when Argentine playmaker Marcos Flores worked his way into the box before bending a curling right foot strike wide of Janjetovic’s woodwork.
Goal scorer McBreen had a great chance to add another to the scoreboard just before the interval as he connected with another Rose cross. Unfortunately for the Mariners, the well-travelled marksman could only head the pass into the ground, with the ball bouncing harmlessly over the crossbar.
It was a cagey start to the second stanza with few clear-cut opportunities created by either team.
Sky Blues midfielder Ali Abbas was handed an opportunity to restore parity to the contest in the 58th minute as he headed the ball towards goal after linking with attacker Joel Chianese, but the visitors were denied by Reddy who saved comfortably.
Not long after, Socceroo Duke found the boot of midfield maestro Michael McGlinchey who tried his luck, however the Kiwi international’s strike was blocked by Jurman.
Mariners fan favourite Matt Simon had a great chance to further the home team’s lead with 20 minutes remaining as he came one-on-one with Janjetovic. However, the Sydney custodian did well to deny ex-East Gosford Rams man.
Sydney substitute Terry McFlynn fired a strike from the edge of the area soon after but Reddy was up to the task to deny his former teammate.
Mile Sterjovski had a fantastic opportunity to add his name to the scoresheet in the dying stages of the encounter as he curled a left foot shot at goal. Unfortunately for the former Socceroo, his strike cannoned off the post.
Ultimately, McBreen’s goal was all that the yellow and navy needed to reclaim a position in the Hyundai A-League’s top six and put an end to Sydney’s record four game winning streak.
Following the game, Central Coast Mariners boss Moss said his players delivered the reaction he was looking for following a uninspiring performance against Melbourne Victory in the last round of match play.
“I am a perfectionist and the performances over the first two weeks weren’t great,” Moss said. “This week I asked for a reaction and boy did I get it in the first 45 minutes.”
“I thought we had some great chances in the first half and they were born out of great ball speed, ball movement. We had players in motion when we were building up from the back, and I thought we played through the lines and through midfield very, very well to create our chances.”
“We can be much better – that wasn’t a complete performance tonight by any stretch but there were a lot of glimpses there of what we’re capable of.”
Moss described McBreen’s goal as “something that you see on the highlights from the English Premier League”.
“I thought ‘Macca’ (McBreen) really looked back to the Macca of old tonight. He was putting himself about and he was getting into some good areas in the box. His finish was class.”
Central Coast Mariners 1 (McBreen 26’)
Sydney FC 0
Bluetongue Stadium, Gosford
Central Coast Mariners: 2. Daniel MCBREEN, 3. Joshua ROSE, 4. Marcel SEIP, 7. John HUTCHINSON (C), 8. Nick MONTGOMERY, 9. Mitchell DUKE (21. Mile STERJOVSKI 73’), 10. Marcos FLORES (19. Matt SIMON 71’), 12. Liam REDDY (Gk), 14. Michael MCGLINCHEY, 15. Storm ROUX (6. Brent GRIFFITHS 84’), 16. Trent SAINSBURY
Substitutes not used: 1. Justin PASFIELD (Gk), 17. Anthony CACERES
Yellow cards: Seip
Red cards: Nil
Sydney FC: 2. Sebastian RYALL, 4. Ranko DESPOTOVIC (27. Chris NAUMOFF 76’), 5.Matthew JURMAN, 6.Nikola PETKOVIC, 8. Pedj BOJIC, 11. Richard GARCIA (C),16. Joel CHIANESE, 19. Nick CARLE (15. Terry MCFLYNN 80’), 20. Vedran JANJETOVIC (Gk), 22. Ali ABBAS, 28. Matthew THOMPSON (21. Yairo YAU 63’)
Substitutes not used: 1. Ivan NECEVSKI (Gk), 34. Aaron CALVER
Yellow cards: Thompson, McFlynn, Yau
Red cards: Nil
Referee: Peter Green