Victory steal win from Mariners

The Melbourne Victory scored two goals in two minutes late in the second half to score a dramatic 2-1 win over the Central Coast Mariners in a New Years Eve thriller at Gosford.

The Melbourne Victory scored two goals in two minutes late in the second half to score a dramatic 2-1 win over the Central Coast Mariners in a New Years Eve thriller at Gosford.

Second half replacement Diogo Ferreira equalised for the Victory with only five minutes to play before a shocking mistake from young Mariners goalkeeper Mathew Ryan in the 87th minute handed Grant Brebner with a tap-in to win the match.

Ryan should have easily held Ferreira-s long range shot but the shot-stopper fumbled the ball and Brebner had the easiest of tasks to score what turned out to be the winner in front of 12,409 fans at Bluetongue Stadium.

It was a heartbreaking end to the match for the Mariners who looked on course for a third win in succession.

The Mariners led 1-0 in the 48th minute following an own goal from Melbourne defender Adrian Leijer.

Leijer attempted to clear a pinpoint cross from Mariners left back Joshua Rose, but could only watch on as his poor effort left Victory goalkeeper Michael Petkovic no chance.

There was another major talking point shortly after the goal when in-form Mariners striker Adam Kwasnik was sent off after picking up a second yellow card. Kwasnik picked up his first yellow for a clumsy challenge on Marvin Angulo in the 41st minute and was in trouble again in the 53rd minute.

Kwasnik felt he was fouled by Victory captain Kevin Muscat, but no freekick was given.

The Mariners front man then appeared to abuse referee Ben Williams, who had no hesitation dismissing Kwasnik.

Victory desperately tried to make the most of the one-man advantage but struggled to penetrate a resilient Mariners defence before scoring their two late goals.

Defeat was tough on a Mariners team who dominated for long periods. After Kwasnik was sent off Mariners coach Graham Arnold played with one striker and stacked the midfield. The tactics worked well with Melbourne failing to build any pressure until Ferreira struck.

The match started in frantic fashion with the home team creating a series of great chances. Striker Matt Simon fired wide inside the first minute before Micheal McGlinchey, Patricio Perez and Patrick Zwaanswijk also missed chances to open the scoring.

The Mariners best chance in the first half fell to Simon in the 25th minute. Simon only managed to hit the side netting after having a clear shot on goal. He should have at least forced Victory goalkeeper Michael Petkovic into a save.

It was a heartbreaking defeat for the Mariners, but captain Kevin Muscat and coach Ernie Merrick were full of praise for their team, who showed true championship qualities to strike two late goals.

''We were really keen on a win tonight and pushed right to the end,''- Muscat said.

''That win is very important for us. We've got a tough run coming up but we'll enjoy ourselves tonight. We've build a bit of momentum and we're putting pressure on the teams above us.''

Merrick never felt his team was out of the match, even after the Mariners went ahead in the 48th minute following an own goal from Adrian Leijer.

''We showed a lot of character,'' Merrick said. ''Hopefully we can improve again.''

Mariners coach Graham Arnold and captain Alex Wilkinson were both shattered with the defeat. Both agreed Adam Kwasnik's dismissal for picking up two yellow cards early in the second half was crucial.

''They got two soft goals from fatigue,'' Arnold said.

''The game changed completely with the sending off. I'm proud of the boys, for me there was only one team on the field in the first half.''

Central Coast Mariners 1 (Leijer og, 47) Melbourne Victory 2 (Ferreira 84, Brebner 86) Crowd: 12,409 at Bluetongue Stadium, Gosford