Mariners cruise past Fury

Central Coast Mariners cruised to a 1-0 victory in their midweek clash with North Queensland Fury at Bluetongue Stadium on Wednesday night.

Central Coast Mariners cruised to a 1-0 victory in their midweek clash with North Queensland Fury at Bluetongue Stadium on Wednesday night.

A first-half goal to Adam Kwasnik was all that was needed to give Graham Arnold's men their ninth win of the season.

The striker's emphatic header in the 28th minute was his eighth goal of this Hyundai A-League campaign, and pushed the Mariners past Gold Coast United on goals scored, and subsequently into third spot on the ladder.

However, Arnold was not pleased with his side's performance and the fact that they could not put the game away, despite having by far the better of the general play.

"I'm happy with the three points but that's where it ends," he said after game. "I think that we were a bit too negative tonight," Arnold said.

"Overall we deserved to win the game, I think we had four or five really good chances, but when you leave it at one-nil and you don't have the killer goal then you can ask for trouble."

Despite the narrow margin, the home side rarely looked troubled against a conservative Fury outfit that ultimately lacked creativity in the final third of the pitch.

Both sides fielded near full-strength line-ups, with the Mariners handing playmaker Patricio Perez his third start of the season in behind strikers Kwasnik and Matt Simon. The Argentine was lively from the opening whistle, setting up numerous opportunities during his 61-minute stint.

In just the seconod minute, it was Perez who found space in the middle of the park before playing in Kwasnik down the right flank, but the striker's shot was straight at Fury goalkeeper Justin Pasfield.

The visitors were forced to play the majority of the game on the counter-attack, sitting deep and absorbing defensive pressure as a result. On the few occasions that they did break quickly in the first half, striker Chris Payne was denied by fine saves from keeper Matt Ryan.

The game would be decided midway through the half when New Zealand international Michael McGlinchey opened up the Fury defence with a neat ball to Simon down the right. His ball to the far post was headed home with authority by Kwasnik, giving the Mariners a lead they would hold for the rest of the match.

The second half, though, was a scrappy affair with the midfield becoming increasingly stretched.

The only genuine chance of the half fell to the feet of Simon, who really should have put the game beyond doubt in the 72nd minute. After being played clean through on goal by a delightful Mustafa Amini chip, Simon fluffed his strike when one-one-one with Pasfield, giving the Fury a lifeline.

It was an opportunity they would be unable to take though, despite throwing on the attack-minded Dyron Daal and Jason Spagnuolo in desperate search of an equaliser.

The loss sends the Fury back to Townsville stuck in ninth place on the ladder, six points adrift of eighth placed Melbourne Heart above them, and with only one win in their past five outings.

Arnold, though, took time to praise his opponents after the match, perhaps with one eye on the Mariners' looming stretch of five matches in the next three weeks.

"They're on a tough period, they've had four games in thirteen days and they've played in the humidity and the heat up there in Townsville and they've had the trip down here. So you've got to give full credit to North Queensland as well as Franz Straka for the job that they have done," Arnold said.

Mariners skipper Alex Wilkinson, meanwhile, explained that the win displayed the kind of grit and determination needed in order to be contenders for the Hyundai A-League title come finals time.

"Although tonight probably wasn't one of our better performances at home, it was great that the boys really dug in in the second half and fought out a hard-fought result."

"You look back at those results at the end of the season where you didn't play so well but still could get wins and they become very important."

"We have a big game against Adelaide now, obviously we are three or four points behind them and we've got a few games (in hand) on them," Wilkinson said of the impending match against the second placed Reds on Boxing Day.

Central Coast Mariners: 1 (Kwasnik 28') North Queensland Fury: 0 Crowd: 5,979 at Bluetongue Stadium