Roar win well at Bluetongue

Queensland continued its amazing run of success on the Central Coast and moved a major step closer to a first A-League title with an impressive 2-0 victory against the Mariners at Gosford on Friday night.

Queensland continued its amazing run of success on the Central Coast and moved a major step closer to a first A-League title with an impressive 2-0 victory against the Mariners at Gosford on Friday night.

The Roar did have things their own way for a large part of the match but showed true championship qualities to beat the Mariners in the first leg of the minor semi-final at Bluetongue Stadium.

A header from Mitch Nichols, his fourth goal of the season, in the 27th minute and a penalty to in-form striker Sergio van Dijk in the 54th minute provided the visitors with a successful start to the finals.

But there was some bad news for the Queenslanders with fiery defender Danny Tiatto sent off in the 75th minute. Tiatto picked up a yellow for a rash challenge on Andre Gumprecht in the 30th minute, but was unlucky to receive a second.

He clearly connected with the ball when he challenged Dylan Macallister but referee Ben Williams pulled out the second yellow. The decision angered Queensland officials and players, but the team regained composure to hold out the Mariners.

The Roar have never lost an A-League match at Gosford and played with confidence from the opening exchanges, despite the Mariners dominating possession in the first stanza.

The Mariners went to the break a goal down but enjoyed the best of the chances in what was an open first half.

Central Coast started in fine fashion with Macallister having a low shot saved by Roar goalkeeper Liam Reddy inside the first minute. Macallister had another chance in the 17th minute but pushed his shot wide, while Mariners midfielder Matthew Osman fired a scorching shot straight at Reddy in the 23rd minute.

Nichols goal came against the run of play. After the well taken header Queensland saw more possession but still had to defend bravely. The home team finished the half strongly, regularly testing the experienced Roar defence.

Queensland was a vastly improved side after the break. Defensively the team was rarely threatened while up front Michael Zullo, Nichols, van Dijk and livewire Tahj Minniecon were causing the Mariners defence plenty of troubles.

Roar went two goals clear when Nichols was fouled in the box by Paul O-Grady. It was an easy decision for Williams, who pointed to the spot without hesitation.

The Mariners kept pushing forward and created chances but Queensland deserved the victory.

Queensland 2 (Mitch Nichols 27-, Sergio van Dijk 54-) Central Coast (nil) Crowd: 9514