Unbeaten Central Coast Mariners have cruised to a fourth consecutive NYL win through a 2-1 victory over Adelaide United.
Unbeaten Central Coast Mariners have cruised to a fourth consecutive win through a 2-1 victory over Adelaide United in the National Youth League fixture at Burton Park on Saturday.
The Mariners had the lion's share of possession and were rarely troubled by the Reds as they took the lead prior to half-time via midfielder Daniel Bragg who pounced on a defensive error.
Substitute Aaron Peterson - on for the industrious Mitchell Duke - buried the Mariners' second three minutes after half-time.
Adelaide responded 15 minutes from time through winger Awer Mabil to give themselves a late sniff for a share of the points, but it wasn't to be as the visitors hung on for victory.
Central Coast momentarily head to the top of table, three points clear of the undefeated Melbourne Victory who play on Sunday, while Adelaide drop to fifth.
The Mariners began the match spritely and raced forward early with back-to-back chances barely five minutes in.
Pushing on from defence Michael Neill weaved his way into Adelaide's box before delivering a teasing cross to Duke whose shot from six yards was well blocked by Reds goalkeeper John Hall.
A goalmouth scramble ensued from Hall's save as the Mariners' forwards tried in vain to force the ball home until it was eventually cleared.
Moments later, the visitors again exposed a shaky and flat-footed Adelaide back four via Duke, but he was thwarted by Hall once more.
Anthony Caceres should have given Central Coast the lead on 10 minutes when Brad McDonald teed up the midfielder with an intelligent square ball from the left wing, but the 20-year-old fired straight at Hall.
The Mariners again caught the hosts' defence napping, though, when Tomislav Cirjak and Bragg broke free at the half-way line with only United full-back Stefan Cali and Hall to beat.
The duo worked a clever one-two as Cali desperately back peddled to protect Hall but they could not capitalise.
Hall almost brought undone his gallant display in goal when he made a meal of a back pass as Duke closed in, looking to rob the gloveman of the ball. However, the 18-year-old managed to recover and clear.
The Mariners eventually took the lead on 33 minutes when a routine pass just outside the box was intercepted by senior midfielder Oliver Bozanic.
Adelaide defender Scott Nagel intervened with a desperate sliding tackle but the ball fell kindly to Duke as the Mariners' attackers poured forward before the bustling forward released Bragg who placed the ball beyond a helpless Hall.
Central Coast doubled their advantage immediately after the break when Peterson finished sweetly past Hall.
With the visitors happy to defend their lead, Adelaide breathed life into the game and shocked the Mariners when Mabil struck on 74 minutes.
Substitute John Karatzas used his body well to hold up the ball and fend off two Mariner defenders on the edge of the area before threading in Mabil from the wing, who tucked his shot home.
Jake Monaco almost found the equaliser twice for Adelaide as the final whistle loomed but the former Qantas Australian Under-17 representative was unluckily denied on both occasions.
After working an intelligent one-two into the area Monaco chipped the ball over Mariners gloveman David Bradasevic only to hit the post before his rebound effort from a tight angle was cleared off the line.
Adelaide United 1 (Mabil 74) Central Coast 2 (Bragg 33, Peterson 48)
Adelaide United: 1. John Hall (gk), 2. Shaun Harvey, 3. Jordan Elsey (c), 4. Stefan Cali (12. Allan Welsh 45), 5. Scott Nagel, 6. Jake Monaco, 8. Thomas Briscoe (9. John Karatzas 45), 10. Fabian Barbiero, 11. Zenon Caravella, 14. Awer Mabil (15. Anthony Trimboli 77), 15. Anthony Trimboli (7. Liam Wooding 45)
Central Coast: 1. David Bradasevic (gk), 2. Nikola Stanojevic (c), 4. Michael Neill, 6. Daniel Bragg (14. Jordan Crighton 59), 7. Adam Jenner, 10. Tomislav Cirjak (8. Dillon Vorster 55), 11. Oliver Bozanic, 13. Brent Griffiths, 15. Brad McDonald, 17. Anthony Caceres, 19. Mitchell Duke (9. Aaron Peterson 45)