Adelaide United scored three goals inside 10 first-half minutes to blow away Central Coast Mariners in a 4-2 win at Coopers Stadium on Sunday.
Roy O’Donovan’s crisp finish handed the Mariners a shock early lead, but the Reds responded with authority as Isaias, Stefan Mauk and Bruce Djite all struck before the break.
Substitute Pablo Sanchez cemented the hosts ascension to second spot with a fourth from the penalty spot following a largely sedate second half.
Central Coast did claim some late consolation as O’Donovan crashed a goal of the season contender for his third goal in two weeks.
1-0 Roy O’Donovan (16’) – Seconds after heading over a clear chance, O’Donovan showed far greater composure on the floor in netting a fine opener. The Irish forward latched on to Liam Rose’s direct ball down the right, cut inside and drilled a low left-footed finish inside Eugene Galekovic’s near post.
1-1 Isaias (29’) – Central Coast invited Isaias to shoot and the Spaniard obliged from distance, dipping a saveable effort through Paul Izzo’s hands.
2-1 Stefan Mauk (35’) – Bruce Djite held off his marker and laid possession into the path of Stefan Mauk, who dribbled beyond four defenders before sliding his finish across Izzo and into the bottom corner.
3-1 Bruce Djite (38’) – Mauk seized on a half-clearance and poked a pass through to Craig Goodwin, who unselfishly squared for Djite to rifle home Adelaide’s third inside 10 minutes.
4-1 Pablo Sanchez (81’) – Substitute Sanchez sent Izzo the wrong way from the spot after being brought down in the area by a rash Harry Ascroft challenge.
4-2 Roy O’Donovan (83’) – An incredible strike from nowhere as O’Donovan chested Josh Rose’s chipped pass and spectacularly lashed home a left-footed volley on the turn.
Luis Garcia dragged wide a promising chance for the Mariners to recapture their lead just two minutes after Adelaide’s equaliser.
With more time than perhaps he realised – and Mitch Austin open to his left – the Spaniard pulled his shot the wrong side of the upright. His side would be two goals behind within seven minutes of the chance.
Paul Izzo simply should have saved Isaias’ speculative equaliser. Though it dipped awkwardly, Tony Walmsley’s team would have expected long-range efforts to be dealt with having earned the right to sit deep.
It meant little in the scheme of the match, but Roy O’Donovan’s second is a serious contender for goal of the season.
The sharpshooter controlled Josh Rose’s pass with his chest and, in a seemingly harmless position, swivelled and crashed a terrific left-footed volley beyond a static Eugene Galekovic.
THE FINAL WORD
Adelaide United remain right in the mix for a second regular season title.
The Reds showed character in coming from behind to earn victory and now sit just one point shy of leaders Brisbane Roar.
Consecutive trips to Sydney FC and Melbourne City will be better measures of their Finals Series potential, but at least a top two finish should be the aim.
Central Coast Mariners, meanwhile, returned to reality after last week’s late show and will be playing purely for pride in the remaining matches – first visiting Western Sydney Wanderers on Friday before hosting Newcastle Jets in a season-ending F3 Derby.
Adelaide United: Galekovic (gk), Marrone, McGowan, La Rocca, Goodwin, Isaias, Mauk (Mells 86’), Carrusca (Sanchez 73’), Kamau (Dugandzic 78’), Djite, Cirio
Sydney FC: Izzo (gk), Poscoliero, Ascroft, Rose, Neill, McGing (Stella 82’), Rose, Ferreira, Garcia (Fletcher 77’), Austin (Bingham 68’), O’Donovan
Scorers: O’Donovan 16’, Isaias 29’, Mauk 35’, Djite 38’, Sanchez p.81’, O’Donovan 83’
Red Cards: Nil
Yellow Cards: La Rocca 15’, Mauk 32’, Austin 47’, Bingham 88’
Conditions: 21°C, dry