The Mariners snatched a thrilling 3-2 victory over the North Queensland Fury and ensured that the Mariners home 'fortress' remained almost intact* prior to their coming 6 weeks away sojurn.
The Mariners had the luxury of naming playmaker Argentine Patricio Perez and starlets, Scots-Kiwi Michael-McGlinchey, and Avalon Sharks bred Oliver Bozanic in their midfield with former Fury man Rostyn Griffiths in the defensive role. Fury started with both Ugandan Eugene SSeppuya and Netherlands Antilles' Dyron Daal up front and Jack Hingert who had done well off the bench in the big smoke out on the right.
Neither side is willing to give up and so it proved with excitement right up to the 94th minute.
The Mariners started the game well with a solid spell of short-passing play that sought to bring in Patricio Perez, and had the Fury on the back foot.
Quite against the run of play it was the visitors who claimed the first mark on the scoreboard. A fairly nothing forward long ball was picked up in the area by Patrick Zwaaswijk who played it out to Joshua Rose who pushed it forward too softly toward Oliver Bozanic but he was bundled out of the way by former Victory defender Simon Storey. Storey burst forward and drilled the ball toward the right side of the goal. Alas, though rookie keeper Matthew Ryan moved well to cover, the ball deflected into the net off the boot of Zwaaswijk. 0-1
Although the Mariners resumed their forward movement, and put considerable pressure on for the rest of the half they still individually looked a little below their best, and there was some slight reticence in defence. The Fury tried to muscle their way and to bring Dyron Daal into the game.
Late in the first half Coast captain Alex Wilkinson made an impressive run forward but perhaps he fell victim to 'altitude sickness' in the area and couldn't get a clear shot in.
Frustration boiled over when referee Kurt Ams, in just his second A-League game, blew during a corner for the Fury and coach Frank Starka remonstrated, clashing mostly verbally with the 4th official. Speculation that he may not appear after the break was overturned when common-sense seemed to have overtaken events.
After the break the urgency seemed to return to the home side and they looked the more likely.
In the 56th minute Perez was forward down the right and played in Daniel McBreen. Trying to bring the ball under control in the area he was dragged down by Brett Studman who was only on the field as substitute for Akoto for less than a minute, and referee Kurt Ams quickly pointed to the penalty spot. Perez took it himself and put it to the right past Justin Pasfield in the Fury goal. 1-1
Alas in the 78th minute Fury's Isaka Cernak swung a wicked free-kick in from the right and Daniel McBreen intervened diving to cover the real and present threat of Fury's impressive central defender Englishman Mark Hughes. McBreen succeeded in beating Hughes but the ball skewed off his head and past Mariners 'keeper Ryan. 2-2
It was on for young and old, as both teams had a real go at each other, impressively for Fury who must have had leaden legs.
The Mariners created chances but neither McBreen nor Perez could capitalise.
For their part Fury saw Matt Ryan make two great saves, one off substitute and former Umina junior Chris Payne.
Within the 4 minutes of stoppage time Michael McGlinchey sent a cross from the left which was met by Patrick Zwaanswijk who headed in, giving the Coast a deserved but very close fought 3-2 win.
The win puts Arnold's men in second spot and was the team's fourth win of the season and third from four starts at Gosford. After the game he said, "I'm proud of the players, I think it's the best we've played all year," Arnold said. "For once our defence wasn't the best, but our attack was good. We had three or four chances to kill them off but overall I'm very happy."
Arnold was especially happy with the contribution of midfielder Michael McGlinchey. McGlinchey was outstanding and it was his telling run and cross that set up the winning goal. "Mikey for me was man of the match," Arnold said. "That was the best he's played all season."
"I think we were unlucky not to get a result," Fury assistant coach Stuart McLaren said. "It's been a taxing trip but we're a resilient bunch. We're looking forward to the next period with a lot of home games."
North Queensland should not feel too down after their 3 game spell away, with good performances in patches in all of Wellington, Sydney, and Gosford.
* The stadium is having it's pitch relaid for the first time in 9 years so the 6,656 fans who had braved the rain were officially invited to 'invade' after the game - any many enjoyed a damp stroll to celebrate their win.