Mariners ride luck in shut-out win over Western United
Central Coast Mariners are into the Hyundai A-League top six following a tense 1-0 win over Western United.
Giancarlo Gallifuoco delivered the decisive strike in the 49th minute for the Mariners, with a deflected strike that nestled in the back of the net off the post.
Alen Stajcic’s side rode their luck in their defensive third throughout the contest – goalkeeper Mark Birighitti repeatedly proving the spoiler with a number of crucial saves.
Western United were also left ruing wasteful finishing after Alessandro Diamanti and Panagiotis Kone spurned clear first-half chances.
Moving off the bottom of the Hyundai A-League table, the result ends a 38-match run without a clean sheet for the Mariners that lasted 639 days.
The final whistle also marked the first ever defeat on the road for Western United in the Hyundai A-League, however, Mark Rudan’s side hold firm in fifth position on the ladder.
Mariners live dangerously from corners
A quartet of Western United corners had the Mariners fans on edge midway through the first half.
Dario Jertec came close with a driven strike that forced Mariners' Mark Birighitti to tip over the bar before Ziggy Gordon was called on to clear Andrew Durante’s header off the line.
Birighitti’s big save foils Diamanti
A wicked free-kick from Alessandro Diamanti near the end of the first half brought the best out of Birighitti as he kept Mariners in the contest.
The shot-stopper pushed the Italian’s strike onto the crossbar at full stretch before his defenders helped mop up the rebound.
United fail to capitalise
Further opportunities fell for Western United as the first half drew to a close but both Diamanti and Panagiotis Kone were unable to find the target with fierce hits in promising positions.
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Gallifuoco opens the scoring…with a bit of help
The Mariners opened the scoring against the run of play when Giancarlo Gallifuoco’s strike deflected off Aaron Calver and in off the post.
Birighitti does it again
Frustrations continued to mount for Western United as Besart Berisha’s firm header was foiled by Birighitti in the 58th minute.
It would prove his last meaningful contribution as he was substituted minutes later, much to the Kosovar international’s chagrin.
Kurto keeps United in the contest
A big chance for Jack Clisby to double the advantage emerged on 71 minutes but his first-time strike was pushed away, a classy stop from Filip Kurto.
In Round 8, Western United go up against Hyundai A-League Champions Sydney FC for the first time. The match, at GMHBA Stadium, kicks off at 4pm AEDT on Sunday, 1 December.
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