Central Coast Mariners have begun life after coach Phil Moss with a vital 1-0 win over a disappointing Melbourne City in Gosford on Sunday.
A superb free-kick routine slammed home by Fabio Ferreira 16 minutes from the end proved the difference and gave interim boss Tony Walmsley the ideal start.
City substitute Iain Ramsay almost salvaged a point for the visitors in stoppage time but was thwarted by a superb save from Liam Reddy at point-blank range.
The result is a huge lift for the Mariners in what’s been a tough season and keeps their slim finals hopes alive, now just five points behind City who started the day in the top six.
1-0 Ferreira (74’) – The Mariners won a free-kick right on the edge of the box and worked a clever set-piece variation. While it seemed the ball would be laid off for Eddy Bosnar to strike, they went the other way with Ferreira hitting a bullet that went through the wall and was too quick for Tando Velaphi to try and save.
Just over 10 minutes into the second half, Nick Montgomery started a Mariners counter-attack as he carried the ball forward almost 50 metres from deep in his own half. The Englishman then played a clever lofted ball over the top of the City defence that allowed Ferreira to race clear down the right. The winger got to the byline and dinked a perfect cross to the top of the six-yard box and right on the head of Nick Fitzgerald, but the attacker somehow headed straight at Velaphi from point-blank range when it seemed easier to score. Luckily for Fitzgerald it didn’t matter as Ferreira got the winner 18 minutes later.
OPTA DATA KEY STATS
The Mariners continued their domination of Melbourne City [Heart], now nine games unbeaten in games between the two clubs. It was just Central Coast’s fourth win of the season, all of which have come on their home ground in Gosford. It was also the fourth match in a row that John van ‘t Schip’s side have failed to score in an away match.
Two of the A-League’s foundation players celebrated milestones in this clash. Mariners skipper John Hutchinson went level with Matt Thompson and Danny Vukovic on 221 games, while City [and former Brisbane Roar] midfielder Massimo Murdocca made his 200th appearance. The pair put in strong contributions for their sides and it was fitting that two of the competition's most respected and well-liked players had strong games, with Hutchinson getting bragging rights in the end thanks to Ferreira’s thunderbolt.
Ferreira’s goal was a fantastic strike but owed much to City midfielder Aaron Mooy’s inexplicable decision to break from the defensive wall. If Mooy had held his position the ball would have slammed straight into him, instead it went right through and gave Velaphi no chance to stop it. In such a hard-fought contest, it was a poor mistake that cost City badly.
THE FINAL WORD
The Mariners face a difficult trip to Adelaide to take on the top-four chasing Reds on Thursday, while City is at home to lowly Newcastle Jets on Saturday night. City will be desperate to get three points to strengthen their top-six claims.
Central Coast Mariners: Reddy, Poscoliero, Anderson, Bosnar, J. Rose, Hutchinson, Montgomery, Caceres (Trifiro 86’), Ferreira (Major 86’), Fitgerald, Cernak (Roux 86’)
Melbourne City FC: Velaphi, Jaliens, Chapman (Ramsay 85’), Kisnorbo, Baharudin Paartalu (Hoffman 68’), Murdocca, Mooy, Koren, Williams (Novillo 55’), Kennedy
Scorers: Ferreira 74’
Red cards: none
Yellow cards: Bosnar 20’, Baharudin 32’, Hoffman 70’, Chapman 73’
Conditions: 27C, Humid
Attendance: 6079 @ Central Coast Stadium