Simon brace leads 10-man Mariners past Wanderers
Matt Simon scored twice to lead Central Coast Mariners to a rare 3-1 win over Western Sydney Wanderers in Gosford on Saturday night.
The Mariners skipper netted from a free-kick and a set-piece either side of half-time before Kyle Rowles headed in his first Hyundai A-League goal, only to be sent off for a poor tackle in the 71st minute.
Mark Bridge also converted a spot-kick in his 250th appearance in the competition but Markus Babbel's men were unable to deny Alen Stajcic's side their third victory of the season.
Adam Pearce replaced Ben Kennedy between the posts for the Mariners and started well, saving at Mitch Duke's feet in the 22nd minute.
Western Sydney brought in a rookie goalkeeper of their own, debutant Jack Greenwood, and the teenager could do little to stop Central Coast's opener.
Simon won a free-kick on the edge of the area, approached it with intent and blasted the ball straight through a disorganised wall.
Jordan Murray glanced a header narrowly wide of the target just prior to half-time, before going agonisingly close to meeting Jack Clisby's left-sided delivery moments after the restart.
Greenwood, attempting to claim a cross, then wiped out the striker and Simon rifled in the resultant spot-kick to double his side's lead in the 52nd minute.
A third quickly followed, defender Rowles pulling away from Tarek Elrich and nodding in Clisby's corner.
Pearce's handling error and Jacob Melling's subsequent panicked challenge Rashid Mahazi gifted substitute Bridge a goal from the spot and the Wanderers a way back in the 67th minute.
The sense of an impending comeback grew when, 19 minutes from time, Rowles undid his earlier good work by leaving a foot in on Alexander Baumjohann and earning himself a straight red card.
But the Mariners defended stoutly for the remainder of the match as they snapped a four-game losing streak against Western Sydney and signed off from Central Coast Stadium on a triumphant note.
Their final match of the season is away to Melbourne City on Friday, while Wanderers host Melbourne Victory the following day.
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