Central Coast defeated Perth Glory 2-1 in a close encounter in Gosford tonight marred by serious injury to Glory 'keeper Jason Petkovic. This third win moved the Mariners above Perth on the table.
With both teams seeking to move closer to the top four this was a six pointer. The last game for former Glory player Damian Mori as short term signing for the Mariners and with Tom Pondeljak also ex Glory there was some bite to the match up, especially as the Coast had been done over by Glory in this season's game in Perth. Perth were unlucky to lose to Roar last week and the Mariners were coming off a solid win over Sydney.
With a good and vocal crowd into Bluetounge Stadium at Gosford despite threat of rain, the game came alive in the 2nd minute. Paul O'Grady headed forward and Damian Mori slipped the ball to Adam Kwasnik who took off on a run down the right sideline, outpacing Adrian Webster. The striker sent the ball curling on the ground to midfielder Tom Pondeljak, unpicked up by Jamie Harnwell, and the former Glory man back-heeled the ball past Petkovic. 1-0
Perth got a chance in the 11th minute when Simon Solosimo threaded a ball from a melee to Bobby Despotovski who challenged by Jamie McMaster shot as he fell alas straight to Danny Vukovic.
Good work by Adam Kwasnik for the Mariners when he mesmorised the Perth defence and got a cross in the from the left with Damian Mori lurking but Glory 'keeper Petkovic was alert. A few minutes later the big 'keeper stopped a stinging shot from Mori.
Lazaridis got into the area but could not get a shot in under the constant attention of Andrew Clark.
With Perth not using the width there was room for the Mariners to get wide and Tom Pondejak tested Petkovic in the 27th minute with a 20m lob that Petkovic was able to hold.
The Coast largely dominated possession in the first half, but it was a different matter in the second as Perth came out better organised and put considerable presuure on the home side.
Still Petkovic had his work cut out for him, having to punch clear off a corner.
In the 58th minute Stan Lazaridis curled a ball in from the left to Stuart Young who set it up for Colosimo. Danny Vukovic parried left but only into the path of Bobby Despotovski who slotted it home.
Despotovski got a header on target a few moments later but Vukovic was up to take it.
In the 65th minute Stuart Young, always dangerous, received a cross from Leo Bertos, but having slipped behind Andrew Clark in defence, he couldn't get a clean shot in.
A scare for the Glory in the 66th minute when Wayne O'Sullivan who wasn't picked up, volleyed from 20m and Petkovic touched the ball over.
The defining moment of the game came in the 73th minute when Damian Mori and Jason Petkovic both challenged for the ball which the 'keeper won, however he lost badly as the collision included a sliding Simon Colosimo. The result, a hamstring injury for Colosimo and a broken tibia for Petkovic. 9 minutes later the game resumed with Perth having made two substitutions.
The incident changed the complexion of the game, and in the 86th minute Tom Pondeljak scored to make it 2-1. A cross from the right by Kwasnik was deflected by Bertos and onto Pondeljak in the box. Although surrounded by white and purple shirts he swivelled abd steered the ball past Vrtevski to the left.
In the 88th minute Young came away with the ball but shot straight at the advancing Vukovic when he should have done better.
The Mariners were under the hammer and Adrian Webster shot over with a snap shot in the 92nd minute. Despotovski was just wide on the left, and then had a shot blocked on the right, but the Coast, in front of their vocal fans, held out.
The game definitely was of two halves with the Mariners on top the first half, and the Glory being quite unlucky to have their momentum on top broken by the injuries.
Ivan Petkovic remained on the Central Coast after the match to undergo surgery at Gosford to put a pin in his left shin bone, which was broken in the clash, while Simon Colosimo sustained a hamstring injury that may see him out for 4-6 weeks.
"We played some good stuff and showed that we can scrap the three points when we need to," said Mariners coach Lawrie McKinna after the game. "We knew that last Friday's result would have counted for nothing without three points tonight ?nd we're obviously delighted to come away with the result we were after."
"We want to make this a dangerous place to come, and tonight was one step towards making that happen," said McKinna, celebrating the Mariners' nine match unbeaten run at Bluetongue Central Coast Stadium. "The crowd was fantastic tonight, again, and if we can get some good points away from home in the next four weeks, we'll be very hard to stop when we have a long stretch of home games at the end of the season."