Western Sydney Wanderers are back on top of the Hyundai A-League after edging a 10-man Central Coast Mariners 2-1 at Central Coast Stadium on Saturday night.
Luis Garcia’s introduction on the hour sparked the Mariners into an equaliser but a straight red card for captain Nick Montgomery was punished by Brendan Santalab’s later winner.
Mark Bridge earlier handed the visitors a deserved lead after just 10 minutes, only for Fabio Ferreira to level matters with just over 20 minutes remaining.
0-1 Mark Bridge (11’) – Deep in his own defence, Storm Roux all too casually played a pass across the face of goal and behind intended target Jacob Poscoliero. Bridge read the opportunity and calmly slipped a sidefooted finish through the legs of Paul Izzo.
1-1 – Fabio Ferreira (67’) – Luis Garcia’s superb pass released Mitch Austin, who squared from the byline for Josh Bingham. The forward’s finish was kept out by Andrew Redmayne, but Ferreira followed-up to scramble home the scraps.
1-2 – Brendan Santalab (88’) – Following a Michael Neill turnover, Paul Izzo’s hand was unable to keep Kearyn Baccus’ cross from reaching Brendan Santalab for a straightforward tap-in.
At the time still imbued with the attacking impetus inspired by Luis Garcia, Central Coast were dealt a highly unnecessary blow when captain Nick Mongtomery was shown a straight red card for launching into a studs-up tackle on Golgol Mebrahtu.
The rash challenge was not the kind to be expected of an experienced leader and left his side unable to cope for the remaining 10 minutes.
Romeo Castelen, Wanderers’ chief attacking instigator throughout the first-half, exhibited a jaw-dropping solo run in the 16th minute that was so fittingly performed in front of commentator Ned Zelic.
Initially holding off Michael Neill, Castelen turned between the fullback and Nick Montgomery before proceeding to gloriously outwit Liam Rose with a silky two-touch move. The attack was eventually snuffed out, but it was a stirring snapshot of Romeo Castelen’s growing catalogue of quality.
Storm Roux only had himself to blame – and his coach to apologise to – for Wanderers moving 1-0 ahead when he failed to recognise the lurking danger of Mark Bridge.
That error was later compounded by Michael Neill's failure to clear for what proved to be the winner.
THE FINAL WORD
Not even Luis Garcia, nor the wave of excitement that accompanied his arrival in Gosford, could prevent Central Coast Mariners from an 11th loss of the season.
They looked on course to secure at least a point when Fabio Ferreira stabbed home but, severely hampered by Montgomery’s dismissal, remain stuck on just nine points.
The Wanderers, meanwhile, climb back into top spot having snapped a winless run of three matches.
Central Coast Mariners: Izzo (gk), Roux, Ascroft, Poscoliero, Neill, L. Rose, Montgomery, Stella (Garcia 59’), Ferreira, Austin (McGing 87’), Fletcher
Western Sydney Wanderers: Redmayne (gk), Neville, Alberto, Aspropotamitis, Jamieson, Andreu, Dimas (Baccus 87’), Nichols, Castelen (Mebrahtu), Vidosic (Santalab 73’), Bridge
Scorers: Bridge 11’, Ferreira 67’
Red Cards: Montgomery 79’
Yellow Cards: Poscoliero 38’, Dimas 54’, Ascroft 76’, Austin 81’
Conditions: 23°C, dry
Attendance: 13,105 @ Central Coast Stadium