A quick-fire first-half brace from Pablo Sanchez gave Adelaide United 2-0 over the Central Coast Mariners in front of 6404 people at Central Coast Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
It was an even contest for the first half an hour, but Sanchez’s goals in the 39th and 42nd minutes secured the Reds’ second place on the table after seven rounds, with the Mariners unable to pull off another great escape as they did last weekend against Melbourne City.
Michael Neill and Mitchell Duke had first-half chance for the Mariners, while Matthew Sims forced a save from a free-kick on the edge of the box. Glen Trifiro had a couple of chances off the bench in the second spell and Anthony Caceres had a legitimate penalty appeal with 15 minutes to play.
But once Adelaide went ahead, it was always going to be a tough ask and United were too classy to be in any danger.
0-1Sanchez (39’) – After some aerial ping-pong, Fabio Ferreira found the ball at his feet in the right corner. His cross took a high deflection off Neill and landed perfectly on the unmarked head of Pablo Sanchez who easily knocked the ball into the net.
0-2 Sanchez (42’) – A brilliantly incisive run from Tarek Elrich down the left touchline left the Mariners’ defence for dead, allowing him to cross forward inside the box. Neill again got a boot to the cross, but the ball fell sweetly for Sanchez who calmly slotted his second from inside the box to completely silence the Gosford faithful.
Duke played a ball through to Neill inside the box in the 30th minute but the move was thwarted by a desperate sliding tackle from Ferreira. The Adelaide winger got a bit of ball and a bit of Neill’s legs but the referee didn’t hesitate to signal a Mariners corner to the ire of the home crowd who wanted a penalty. A goal at that point would’ve blown the game wide open. Instead, the Reds scored twice in quick succession at the end of the paddock before halftime.
Opta Data Key Stats
The Mariners’ woes in front of goal continue. The home side completed 81.4% of their 401 passes and had 13 shots to Adelaide’s eight but couldn’t convert any of them. With just four goals in seven games, coach Phil Moss has cause for concern.
Elrich’s run down the left touchline and into the box was magic. Weaving inside and outside, he eluded at least four Mariners defenders before unleashing his cross into the box for Sanchez’s second.
Mariners coach Phil Moss spent the past week denying rifts in the Central Coast camp, but when he substituted captain John Hutchinson with 25 minutes to play, heated words were exchanged on the touchline. Was it an innocent exchange between two passionate men in a tough time, or a sign of something wrong?
To make matters worse, the man who took the captain’s armband from Hutchinson – Nick Montgomery – was shown a second yellow card with 20 minutes still to play.
There was an early scare for injury prone Neill, but he walked off a hit to the ankle.
Elrich went down ten minutes into the second half after a heavy one-on-one challenge with Storm Roux. The creative Elrich limped around for another ten minutes, but was subbed off in the 66th minute.
Adelaide’s great start to the season continues with the side sitting in second spot, just one point behind Perth Glory. The Reds will be full of confidence ahead of next weekend’s mouth-watering clash with third placed Melbourne Victory, who are also undefeated.
The Mariners’ mini mid-season resurgence ended abruptly on Sunday. The 2012/13 champions have only won one game and sit in seventh spot on the ladder. They need a result next week against ninth placed Newcastle Jets.
Central Coast Mariners
Liam Reddy (gk), Storm Roux, Joshua Rose, Zachary Anderson, John Hutchinson (c) (Glen Trifiro 64’), Nick Montgomery, Mitchell Duke (Isaka Cernak45’), Anthony Caceres, Nick Fitzgerald, Matthew Sim (Richard Vernes 56’), Michael Neill
Eugene Galekovic (gk) (c), Michael Marrone, Nigel Boogaard, Osama Malik, Pablo Sanchez Dyland McGowan 73’), Isaias, Sergio Cirio, Craig Goodwin, James Jeggo, Tarek Elrich (Bruce Kamau 66’), Fabio Ferreira (Awer Mabil 59’)
2 Sanchez (39’, 42’)
James Jeggo (7’), Storm Roux (11’), Osama Malik (37’), Nick Montogmery (43’ and 70’), Josh Rose (48’), Michael Marrone (90+2’), Liam Reddy (90+4’)
Nick Montgomery – two yellow cards.
28 degrees, muggy, rainy and windy.