Liam Reddy's reflexes and the influence of goalkeeping coach John Crawley helped lift Central Coast to a crucial 1-0 AFC Champions League victory over Beijing Guoan.
The one-goal triumph means the Mariners have climbed to the top of Group F after Rafael Costa rescued a point for FC Seoul on Tuesday night, his injury-time penalty giving his side a 2-2 draw with Sanfrecce Hiroshima.
The results see the Mariners on top of their group with six points with two group matches remaining, while all other sides are on five in a tight contest.
In his first season as a head coach, Phil Moss spoke glowingly of both Reddy and Crawley after the Mariners registered their third win in three seasons against Chinese opposition at home, having bested Superleague sides Guizhou Renhe and Tianjin Teda in Gosford in recent campaigns.
"Rocket really earned his money tonight," said Moss.
"Two fantastic saves – the first one just before half-time and then the penalty save."
Moss noted Reddy's 69th-minute save of Zhang Xizhe's penalty attempt, after Brent Griffiths had fouled Joffre Guerron, was a result of their preparation.
"Credit to John Crawley our goalkeeping coach, he analysed their penalty takers and he showed Rocket some footage before the game and that basically came down to the save because Rocket picked the same way.
"That's a big part of coaching when you can get those moments right, so credit to JC and rocket of course for the save."
Moss wasn't convinced the sharp penalty save was the turning point but, but said it helped the Mariners cause.
"I'm not sure it spun momentum but it certainly gave us confidence to go on and win the game," he said.
"It definitely would have been three points that got away, or two if it had ended up in a draw," Moss added.
"Because I thought first half we were very dominant and we created a lot of chances and really nearly feel for the sucker punch just before half-time. Liam pulled of a magnificent save and that allowed us to go in at 0-0.
"As I said to the players we need to be more ruthless second half, we needed to be more patient at times.
"We played some great football first half, through the lines into the pockets and we threatened in behind, particularly down Josh Rose's side, but we did force a couple of passes that gave them possession in transition which is where we knew they were dangerous."
Moss repeated a theme from the A-League recently, saying he felt South Korean playmaker Kim Seng-Yong was the target of rough treatment from opposition players.
"I think Kim was targeted by one particular player, there was about three of four fouls on him from the same player but you know refereeing in Asia is very different to the refereeing in the A-League," said Moss.
The 29 year-old was brought down particularly harshly 10 minutes into the second period when Darko Matic cut him down from behind however the referee, Sri Lankan Hettikamkanamge Perera, saw no reason to book Matic on that occasion.
Moss concedes the situation is part of the territory when playing in the AFC Champions League but thinks it can also be a learning tool for local officials.
"There is parts of it we can learn from, I think at times the refereeing in the A-League is a bit to flippant at times with yellow cards but it's just two different competition and we all learn coaches, players, referees, that's part of the beauty of being in Asian football."
The Mariners travel to Perth on Friday for their next A-League fixture on Saturday evening as them attempt to hold down second spot.comments