Muscat went down like a movie star - O'Donovan

The Central Coast Mariners picked up a first win in over two months on Thursday but the victory was clouded in controversy.

Roy O'Donovan claims Wellington Phoenix defender Manny Muscat went "down like a movie star" after the Central Coast Mariners striker headbutted him on Thursday. 

The Irishman received only a yellow card after he headbutted Muscat in the 59th minute of the Mariners' 3-1 win over the Phoenix in the A-League. 

Merrick: Headbutt 'from the dark ages'

The two clashed just moments earlier, with Muscat sending an elbow in the striker's direction, before O'Donovan retaliated.

However, O'Donovan has claimed Muscat milked the incident, saying the Phoenix defender deserves an Oscar. 

"He's gone down like a movie star there. He'll get an Oscar for that, he timed it perfect," O'Donovan told Fox Sports. 

"I've got elbowed in the face - not once, not twice - and the referee hasn't seen fit to react to that or book Manny Muscat.

"So I walked away and I had a player run into my direction, jeering at me ... I lean my head in and I've reacted to it.

"The referee could have quite easily sent me off - I'm fully aware of that. But he dealt with it sensibly, he felt there wasn't enough force behind what I did. I got yellow-carded and nobody got hurt.

"Manny played on the rest of the game, he didn't have a scratch or a bruise, we shook hands after the game and he said 'good battles' and so did I. I'm the only one who has any wounds from the whole event."

Mariners hint at Sydney player swap for Caceres

Despite playing down the incident, O'Donovan did issue an apology to Mariners supporters.

"I know there's going to be backlash, I know in this country it's a small football community for such a big country and there's a lot of media coverage," he said.

"It's only human nature when there's so much media furore about it, there's going to be a backlash.

"I wanted to apologise to Central Coast fans and members for what they saw last night. I apologise first and foremost for taking the gloss of what was a terrific win for the team last night." 

Phoenix coach Ernie Merrick blasted the headbutt from O'Donovan after the game, labelling it as "disgraceful" and "vicious".

"It was a disgraceful act, coming in from the side - Manny was unsighted - with a vicious headbutt with malice and he didn't do it properly so he's the one who finished up with the shiner," Merrick said.

"If the game allows anything like that to occur then we're definitely going into the dark ages of football." 

Mariners coach Tony Walmsley said he didn't see the incident but left open the possibility of the club taking its own action.

"I’ve heard about it," Walmsley said post-match. "I’ll obviously have a look at it and we’ll deal with it internally if we need to."

But he insisted he had not seen the incident to comment further.

"Haven’t seen it, haven’t heard enough about it," he said.

"There were two incidents – an elbow from them and a head-to-head from us so when I look at it I’ll know and be able to comment on it. At this point I can’t."

Walmsley said he had not had time to raise the matter with the striker.

"No they were just celebrating with the fans at the moment so I haven’t spoken to him," he said.

I didn’t know what had happened so when he came off with his eye out here, cut, all I thought was can I get him back on the park or not. I don’t know any more about it than that."