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Simon and Hatch score as Mariners pull clear

The Central Coast Mariners moved seven points clear at the top of the A-League ladder with a 2-0 win over second placed Macarthur on Monday night.

Alen Stajcic made no changes to the team that started against Perth, with the only difference Matt Hatch’s presence on the bench in place of Lewis Miller who missed the game through illness.

Stefan Nigro had an early chance as Daniel DeSilva teed him up after a good move but he skied his effort over the bar, and Tommy Oar had an effort saved by Mark Birighitti down the other end soon after.

The Mariners opened up the scoring nine minutes in though and Marco Urena was at the heart of the move, picking up the ball in midfield and driving forward.

He laid it off for Simon who returned the pass before making a run in behind and when Urena found him once more, his first-time strike took a deflection over Adam Federici and in to put the hosts ahead.

There were chances at both ends as the first half continued but neither could make them count and the Mariners headed into the break a goal up but with the Bulls pressing hard for an equaliser.

Ante Milicic’s side came close early in the second half and it took a herculean effort from Birighitti on the line to deny Matt Derbyshire as he came sliding in to connect with a cross.

Matt Simon had an effort somehow clawed off the line by Federici as the game entered it’s final half hour, and shortly after he and Urena were substituted with Alou Kuol and Michal Janota coming on to replace them.

Kuol looked to cause trouble for Macarthur’s back four when the Mariners were able to get out on the break and he was flattened by Benat to earn the Spaniard a yellow card.

Dan Bouman was replaced by Hatch and 25 seconds later the debutant was a record holder, sweeping home his first A-League goal with his first A-League touch from Kuol’s cutback after Janota won the ball and fed Kuol just outside the area.

That goal proved to be the sealer as Stajcic’s side saw out the final 10 minutes, with the result putting the Mariners seven points clear of the Bulls after 11 matches this season.

Attentions now turn to Sunday, as the Mariners take on Perth for the second time in two weeks, this time at Central Coast Stadium.

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