Mariners stun GCU

Central Coast Mariners secured the result of the season to date with a 3-0 demolition of leader Gold Coast United at Bluetongue Stadium.

Central Coast Mariners secured the result of the season to date with a 3-0 demolition of leader Gold Coast United at Bluetongue Stadium.

The Mariners moved into second place on the Hyundai A-League ladder, at least temporarily, with a deserved win courtesy of goals from Nicky Travis, Matt Simon and John Hutchinson.

United's much-vaunted attack, with a competition-best 14 goals after seven rounds, faced the league's best defence, Lawrie McKinna's charges having turned around their horrific defensive record of earlier this year with Danny Vukovic's goal breached on just four occasions to date this term.

McKinna rang the changes by bringing in four players from the team which lost by the only goal of the match last week in Adelaide, key additions being central defender Chris Doig and midfielder Michael McGlinchey, who returned after making his international debut for New Zealand last week.

The home side had by far the better of the opening exchanges and though unable to force a gilt-edged opening they forced a succession of corners and put pressure on the Gold Coast defensive line.

The Mariners were rewarded with Travis breaking the deadlock midway through the first half with the Englishman opening his Hyundai A-League goalscoring account.

Dylan Macallister won a header with Simon picking up the ball and feeding Travis who strode through the heart of the United defence to finish well.

Anderson unleashed a spectacular free-kick hit with genuine venom but Vukovic was up to the challenge tipping over the 30-metre drive with an equally impressive save.

United went into the sheds having recorded more possession despite an unimpressive first half performance by its lofty standards set this season.

Gold Coast looked likely to start the second period with renewed vigour as defender Kristian Rees directed a good header on goal from a corner in the opening minutes but the ball flew straight into the arms of Vukovic. It proved to be one of the few sightings of goal for the unusually muted United.

It was the Mariners though that went two goals to the good with Simon fending off several defenders to unleash a powerful long-range drive on the run from outside the penalty area. The goal proved an unhappy homecoming for Central Coast local Jess Vanstrattan on his Hyundai A-League debut with the ball dipping under his hands as he reached down to save a ball hit directly at him.

Any hope of a Gold Coast comeback was ruined with the dismissal of Shane Smeltz for a second caution on 68 minutes, thus ending the Kiwi striker's dream start to the campaign that had netted nine goals in six matches prior to the match.

Two minutes later Hutchinson capped a solid showing in the centre of the park with a fine goal, bursting into the box after being fed by McGlinchey.

The Mariners finished the stronger and could have scored further goals notably though chances to substitute Nik Mrdja.

"We scored three goals but defensively we never gave them a look in (throughout) the full game," said Central Coast coach McKinna.

"I think Danny had one save, so the defensive shape was good. We nullified Smeltz, Culina. They were busy but didn't penetrate."

Gold Coast United coach Miron Bleiberg paid tribute to the Mariners and at the same time lamenting both his own team's performance and the absence of key personnel.

"If I give a value for the Mariners the way they played last week against Adelaide (1-0 loss) I give you one dollar and today they played $1 million," said Bleiberg after the match.

Central Coast Mariners 3 (Travis 25', Simon 53', Hutchinson 69') Gold Coast United 0