Central Coast Mariners boss Alen Stajcic says his team are building a platform to match it with the best teams in the Hyundai A-League.
The Mariners broke through for their first home win of the season on Sunday by holding off the in-form Western United 1-0 in Gosford.
The three points lifted Mariners off the bottom of the Hyundai A-League table, but also ended an unwanted record of 38 matches without a clean sheet.
A clearly relieved Stajcic praised his young charges as they seek to reverse the club’s fortunes after finishing bottom of the standings the past two seasons.
“To win 1-0, for the team we are, and the developing team we are, it is a really good platform to build on,” he told FOX Sports.
Mariners rode their luck through the contest – surviving a pair of late penalty shouts from Western United and taking the points on the back of a deflected strike from Giancarlo Gallifuoco.
Western United were also wasteful as they dominated the opening stanza, with Panagiotis Kone and Alessandro Diamanti uncharacteristically missing the target.
However, Stajcic explained their good fortune didn’t diminish the positives in his side’s performance.
“I think I said it during the week that [Western United] are probably the most technical team in the league.
“When you have Diamanti and Kone and Berisha – and they are just the three I can think off the top of my head – they are just such a wonderful team to watch and I like watching them every week.
“For us to be able to hold out that quality really shows we have a good foundation and a platform to build on.
“It is a new team we are building and as long as we can keep progressing we are certainly going to be competitive this year.”
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Mariners captain Tommy Oar said his side were determined to combat the multi-pronged attacking threats of Western United after being burnt by a red-hot Adelaide United and Melbourne City sides in recent weeks.
“We conceded goals too easily last week and lapses in concentration cost us. I think this week I think we were really disciplined,” the 28-time capped Caltex Socceroo told FOX Sports.
“We probably didn’t play our best football that we have in other matches, but we knew that if we defended well we would always be dangerous on the counter-attack against them.
“That was the way the game panned out and we are really happy.”
Oar caused problems for Western United on Central Coast's left side
He also echoed his gaffer’s suggestions that something special might be in the early stages of brewing on the Central Coast.
“I think we have a very exciting front third and I am enjoying playing with those boys,” he added.
“Hopefully there is a lot more coming over the rest of the season.”
The next challenge for the Mariners is to string back-to-back wins together – something they have been unable to do since the 2017/2018 season.
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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