The Central Coast Mariners have emerged 1-0 winners over Wellington Phoenix thanks to a tidy first half finish by young-gun, Danny De Silva.
Central Coast Mariners 1 (De Silva 45+1’) Wellington Phoenix 0
A crucial three points and clean sheet sees the Mariners climb into eighth position, ahead of Perth Glory who they face next in round 22 in Perth.
The Yellow & Navy now face a weekend without Hyundai A-League action due to the split round, and will need to wait until Saturday March 10 to go back-to-back.
The run down
Stoppage time magic from De Silva in the first half was enough to catapult the Yellow and Navy to a 1-0 victory over Wellington at Central Coast Stadium.
The first half started quietly, with neither team creating any clear cut chances in the opening stages but the Mariners dictated in all statistics, starving Wellington of possession and field position.
Opportunities were few and far between for the ’Nix: a header from Doyle and long-range attempts from Galloway and Krishna were the only signs of attack for the visiting side in the first stanza.
As the first half progressed, the Mariners looked to grow increasingly dangerous in attack. Hiariej was denied twice with a deflection from Dylan Fox and a diving save from ‘Nix keeper Tando Velaphi, whilst Andrew Hoole and Trent Buhagiar caused plenty of trouble for the Phoenix back four.
The home side didn’t relent, and as the final 15 minutes counted down, the attacks kept coming. A cross from Buhagiar found Peter Skapetis for the best chance of the half, but the striker headed just wide from a tough angle.
Then, a brilliant ball whipped in by Hoole missed Jake McGing at full stretch by centimetres. Hoole struck again from just beyond the 18-yard box, unable to keep the shot below the crossbar but giving Velaphi plenty of cause for concern.
The Mariners’ momentum reached a crescendo in the single minute of extra time when Hoole provided a cross that allowed De Silva to flick home a match winner.
The Central Coast returned from the break on the attack, carrying across the energy from the opening stanza. Hoole put on the pressure with a clever piece of play outside the area in the 50th minute, but his curling cross spun wide of the post.
As the second half continued, Wellington began to look more serious in attack, working hard to capitalise on the counter, and Roy Krishna worked relentlessly to find an equaliser for the visitors, with one strike rattling the crossbar and another hitting the side netting. McGlinchey and Ljuijic looked poised to make their mark, but neither could find a way around the Mariners’ defensive line.
There was 30 seconds of extreme excitement as the second half entered the final twenty minutes. Substitute Blake Powell nearly claimed a second goal with his very first touch, before the ‘Nix went immediately from a goal line clearance to the counter, Krishna found Kaluderovic in the area, but his shot again hit the side netting.
Danny De Silva looked set to work his extra time magic again, with an explosive strike from the edge of the area that swung just wide. In a last gasp effort, the ‘Nix’s Ljujic fired at goal but Kennedy claimed it with ease.
As the final whistle signaled the end to an agonisingly long six minutes of extra time, the Mariners kept a hold on their lead and claimed a well-deserved 1-0 win over the Wellington Phoenix.
45+1’ DE SILVA GOAL (1-0): Trent Buhagiar and Andrew Hoole combined for quick play on the left corner of the 18-yard box before Hoole sent a brilliant ball into Danny De Silva, who swooped in front of defender Thomas Doyle to flick in a superb finish in the dying seconds of the first half.
Paolo in the press
“It was a really energetic start, we probably could have had another goal,” Okon said. “Then the second half comes and it becomes a bit more difficult, they’ve got the wind at their backs, and they’ve got some players that can really hurt you in transition, Krishna, Burns. In the back of the players’ minds maybe they’re thinking about what happened last week, but in the end, we managed it, we dealt with it, and we’ve walked away with the three points.”
“I think that Daniel knows that to get to that next level he has to score more goals. He is certainly capable of it, and the goal that he scores, he makes a run from about 45, 50 metres, so in the end he gets rewarded for his hard work. It’s not really natural for a number 10 to work as hard as he does, he doesn’t stop running, so it’s great for him to get his goal, and its great that its gets us the three points.
“Whenever Tom and Wout perform like that, we’ve always had results, and they’re two experienced players who help everyone around them. Wout has had a tough couple of weeks after the red card, and he was ready to get out there, and he was excellent leading up to the game, and out there he was exactly what we needed, he just gave us a bit of leadership out there to make sure we got the three points.
“In certain games this season, we felt like we should have got more, but in the end, the ladder doesn’t lie, it paints a true picture at the moment. If we had been able to deal with certain moments better, we would have more points, more wins, that’s just how it goes. We know we’re a team that can play football, we’re a team that can create chances through playing our football, but we need to be more clinical in certain moments, and I thought we did that tonight, and I’m happy for the players, and we finally get to send the fans home with a win.
“We have a break this week, the players will enjoy a couple of days off, which they have earned, and then we’re back into working hard, we have a difficult away game against Perth. We’ve already spoken about what needs to be done in between. As of tomorrow morning, our focus shifts to what we hope will be another performance where we can go there and win three points.
“Hooley is the match winner. Sometimes he can be a bit frustrating, he can try and force things but at the end, he’s a player that’s capable of finding that system, of getting that goal. His set pieces tonight were excellent, as they were last week, and on top of that I thought he worked really hard. I’m happy for Hooley, and hopefully for the remaining games we have, he can perform the way he did tonight, and if he does that will hopefully help us get some more points,” Okon said.
Central Coast Mariners: 1. Ben KENNEDY(gk), 2. Storm ROUX, 4. Jake McGING, 5. Antony GOLEC, 6. Tom HIARIEJ (22. Jacob MELLING 73’), 7. Andrew HOOLE, 10. Danny De SILVA, 12. Trent BUHAGIAR (11. Connor PAIN 87’) 15. Alan BARO, 23. Wout BRAMA, 27. Peter SKAPETIS (8. Blake POWELL 68’)
Substitutes not used: 18. Thomas GLOVER (gk) & 19. Jacob POSCOLIERO,
Yellow Cards: Andrew Hoole
Wellington Phoenix: 40. Tando Velaphi (gk), 3. Scott GALLOWAY, 6. Dylan FOX, 7. Nathan BURNS (17. Monty PATTERSON 73’), 8. Matija LJUIJIC, 9. Andrija KALUDEROVIC, 18. Sarpreet SINGH (10. Michael MCGLINCHEY 63’), 19. Thomas DOYLE, 21. Roy KRISHNA, 22. Andrew DURANTE (4. Goran PARACKI 87’), 23. Matthew RIDENTON
Substitutes not used: 13. Marco ROSSI, 30. Keegan SMITH (gk)
Yellow Cards: Thomas Doyle & Matija Ljuijic
Friday, 23 February 2018
Central Coast Stadium, Gosford
Central Coast Mariners vs. Wellington Phoenix