Arnold praises Wilkinson

Relieved Central Coast coach Graham Arnold was full of praise for captain Alex Wilkinson after the Mariners finally picked up a win in the Hyundai A-League against Perth at Gosford on Saturday night.

Relieved Central Coast coach Graham Arnold was full of praise for captain Alex Wilkinson after the Mariners finally picked up a win in the Hyundai A-League against Perth at Gosford on Saturday night.

After two defeats and a scrappy draw during the first three rounds, the Mariners were desperate for a win in front of their own supporters at Bluetongue Stadium.

Things didn't look good for the home team early when a glancing header from Travis Dodd put the visitors 1-0 up after only six minutes.

But the Mariners showed great fighting spirit to work their way back into the contest. Matt Simon equalised in the 27th minute before youngster Bernie Ibini made the most of his first Hyundai A-League start with what turned out to be the winner in first-half injury time.

"I'm very happy with the intensity, our movement and passing was much better," Arnold said.

"We're building and after this we'll grow in confidence."

"The effort from everyone was good. The leadership of Alex (captain Alex Wilkinson) makes a difference. During the first three games we've missed that."

"This was always going to be a battle. We had to get in their faces, we weren't intimidated."

Wilkinson made his first appearance of the season after recovering from a fractured arm and was solid in defence alongside Patrick Zwaanswijk.

"I'm happy to be back," Wilkinson said.

"In the first 20 minutes it took us a while to get use to their system. After that we did very well."

Perth coach Ian Ferguson found plenty of positives despite watching his side lose for the first time this season.

"We shot ourselves in the foot," he said.

"We made a couple of mistakes and the Mariners were good enough to punish us. Overall there's a lot of good things to come out of the game for us."

"We went for it today and paid the price for a couple of silly mistakes, we'll move on."

Perth captain Jacob Burns said his side could easily have gone into the half-time break in front.

"We more than dominated the first half," he said.