Arnie hails his Mariners

Delighted Central Coast Mariners coach Graham Arnold says the final score flattered Sydney FC after his men ended their four-year winless drought at the SFS with a 3-2 victory on Saturday night.

Delighted Central Coast Mariners coach Graham Arnold says the final score flattered Sydney FC after his men ended their four-year winless drought at the SFS with a 3-2 victory on Saturday night.

The Mariners dominated their bitter rivals for most of the game, opening up a 2-0 lead before Nicky Carle and Brett Emerton scored late goals in a thrilling final 15 minutes of an entertaining encounter.

Troy Hearfield's 82nd-minute goal ultimately separated the two sides on the scoreboard, but Arnold believes the difference between the two sides was far greater than a solitary goal.

"The boys played great, I thought the scoreline flattered them (Sydney FC)," Arnold said.

"It wasn't 3-2, obviously there was a great free-kick from Emmo (Brett Emerton) in the last minute but I thought overall we were the better side by far."

"We played good football, kept possession well and the boys carried the game plan out perfectly."

"We pressed higher than normal because we know that Sydney play a pretty long-ball game so it was a matter of pressing high and getting the second ball."

Arnold was highly critical of his players' lack of ruthlessness in front of goal in last week's 0-0 draw with Melbourne Victory.

But the coach could not find fault with any aspect of the performance against Vitezslav Lavicka's men.

"I didn't hide my disappointment about our performance in the final third against Melbourne Victory and we did two days of practising our attack in the final third and it came to fruition tonight," he said.

"It's just a matter of having composure and having options and combinations."

"I was very happy tonight with the front boys, I thought Matty Simon was excellent, that's his best game of the season and our defence was strong again."

Patrick Zwaanswijk's spectacular free-kick in the 41st minute was a major highlight for the Mariners.

Sydney FC goalkeeper Liam Reddy was powerless to stop the star import's blistering left-foot strike as it swerved into the top-left corner to give the visitors their first lead of the night.

"I've done it a lot of times but never on camera," Zwaanswijk joked.

"I never trained for it, I just know I've got a good long pass so I can hit the ball pretty good and that's how the free-kick happened tonight."

"It was a perfect position, I wanted to do something else but at the last second we changed and I did it."

"To be fair I said to Michael (McGlinchey) 'I'm going to put it in the top corner' and I didn't lie about that."