Perth Glory went to the top of the Hyundai A-League table with a 1-0 win over the Central Coast Mariners at Bluetongue Stadium in Gosford on Sunday.
A stunning Nebojsa Marinkovic free-kick in the 42nd minute was the difference on the scoreboard as the Glory claimed their first regular season win at Gosford while consigning the Mariners to a third consecutive defeat.
The Mariners had their chances in the second half with Mitch Duke forcing Danny Vukovic into a sharp save and substitute Malick Mane going close in the dying stages, but with just one win to their name, sit in seventh on the table.
WHAT THEY SAID
"If we worried about last year we'd be in 8th position. Top of the table at the moment but it's a work in progress. We had 16 weeks of pre-season, we were very determined and set our goals. It's important to believe in yourself and do something different. The personnel that Kenny's brought in, it's a credit to them." - Glory Skipper Michael Thwaite
"Today I thought we played very good football at times, we had some great combinations. Again, in front of goal we just need to be a bit more lethal. There were some positive signs today, I think we dominated most of the game." - Mariners striker Mitch Duke
0-1 (42’) – Perth’s Nebojsa Marinkovic curled a beautiful free-kick around the Mariners’ wall and towards the top right corner of the goal. A fully stretched Liam Reddy got a touch but was powerless to stop the world-class strike.
The game had meandered through a rather dull first half before Marinkovic’s cracking free-kick opened the game up. The Central Coast faithful were left stunned, with the goal coming just five minutes after their best opportunity of the first half when Mitch Duke pounced on a loose ball in the box following an Anthony Caceres shot but couldn’t find the back of the net.
OPTA DATA KEY STATS
The Mariners had 62% possession but were too labourious and disjointed on attack to make anything of it with each side having 11 shots on goal.
Marinkovic’s free-kick was easily the highlight of a frustrating game in which each team struggled for clean attempts on goal.
The Mariners attempted a short corner in the 72nd minute but were pulled up for offside. It was a sure-fire coach killer which was followed up five minutes later when Eddy Bosnar fired the ball into debutant Michael Neill’s stomach from close range.
There were a few heavy challenges throughout the match, but nothing to really worry about.
Central Coast captain John Hutchinson was caught by former Mariner Rostyn Griffiths in the first half and had treatment, but played on.
Of the five goals the Mariners have conceded this season, four have come from a set-piece. There’s not much anyone could’ve done about Marinkovic’s stunning free-kick, but their susceptibility in this area of the game is undoing all the work their endeavours in general play.
Perth didn’t play overly well but had enough composure to negate a lopsided possession stat and nullify the Mariners’ attacking threats.
Central Coast Mariners:
12. Liam Reddy, 21. Michael Neill, 25. Eddy Bosnar, 4. Jacob Poscoliero, 2. Storm Roux, 7. John Hutchinson (c), 11. Nick Fitzgerald (Vernes 81’), 23. Isaka Cernak (Sim 60’), 18. Glen Trifiro (Mane 77’), 9. Mitchell Duke, 10. Anthony Caceres
Substitutes: 1. Matthew Nash 3. Joshua Rose, 14. Malick Mane, 15. Mattew Sim, 17. Richard Vernes
1.Daniel Vukovic, 21. Scott Jamieson, 23. Michael Thwaite (c), 6. Dino Djulbic, 19. Joshua Rsdon, 5. Rostyn Griffiths (Ferreira 76’), 10. Nebojsa Marinkovic (Garcia 73’), 7. Youssouf Hersi, 17. Mitchell Nichols, 9. Andrew Keogh, 15. Jamie Maclaren (de Silva 70’)
Substitutes: 2. Jack Clisby, 11. Richard Garcia, 13. Diogo Alves Ferreira, 20. Daniel de Silva 30. Jordan Thurtell
Scorers: Marinkovic (42’)
Red Cards: N/A
Yellow Cards: John Hutchinson (51’)
Conditions: 21 degrees and muggy.