Duke inspires Mariners victory

CENTRAL Coast Mariners have further consolidated their place atop of the Hyundai A-League ladder following a well-earned 3-1 victory over Adelaide United in the Round 18 top-of-the-table clash at Bluetongue Stadium on Friday evening.

CENTRAL Coast Mariners have further consolidated their place atop of the Hyundai A-League ladder following a well-earned 3-1 victory over Adelaide United in the Round 18 top-of-the-table clash at Bluetongue Stadium on Friday evening.

A superb brace from substitute Mitchell Duke and a late strike from New Zealand international Michael McGlinchey ensured the yellow and navy extended their unbeaten streak at home to eight matches and continued their dominant record over the Reds.

The hosts looked dangerous from the outset and had a number of early chances to take the lead.

Veteran marksman Daniel McBreen went on a marauding run down the left flank and delivered an impressive cross to midfielder Oliver Bozanic. Unfortunately for Graham Arnold-s men, Bozanic couldn-t get a clean shot away under pressure.

The visitors were handed their first opportunity of the encounter in the 10th minute. A well-taken free kick from Dario Vidosic failed to trouble Mariners shot stopper Mathew Ryan, who made a comfortable save.

However, the Mariners continued to press and had a flurry of chances to open their account.

McBreen provided a pinpoint pass across the face of goal to the onrushing Bernie Ibini who came close to finding an opener for the Mariners but unfortunately struck the side netting.

Ibini found himself in the thick of the action again only moments later as he delivered a dangerous cross to Bozanic but Adelaide custodian Galekovic made an impressive save to deny the local junior.

After a dominant first half, the Bluetongue faithful were left stunned as John Kosmina-s Reds broke the deadlock in the 39th minute through defender Daniel Bowles. The former Gold Coast United man blasted his effort from the edge of the area past Ryan, netting his first goal for the Reds. Bowles- shot took a deflection on-route to goal.

It was a cagey start to the second stanza with relatively few clear-cut opportunities created by either side.

British import Nick Montgomery tried his luck and was looking to peg one back for the home team with just under half an hour remaining.

Arnold introduced Duke 61 minutes into the contest and immediately the livewire 22-year-old attacker looked as if he would have a crucial say on the outcome of the game.

And Arnold-s substitution proved to be a masterstroke, with Duke restoring parity to the clash in the 67th minute as he blasted a low strike past Galekovic from the edge of the area.

It went from bad to worse for the visitors with Central Coast handed a penalty only moments later for handball from Adelaide-s goalscorer Bowles. McBreen fired a powerful effort on target but the Reds- gloveman Galekovic produced a flying save to deny the A-League-s top marksman.

Duke sent the Mariners ahead shortly after as he pounced on a ball on the edge of the area. Making no mistake with his shot, Duke thundered an effort past Galekovic to give Central Coast the lead.

Returning recruit Nick Fitzgerald teamed with diminutive midfielder McGlinchey to add emphasis to the scoreline in the 88th minute - McGlinchey netting his second goal of the campaign.

After the match, Central Coast Mariners Head Coach Arnold told media his side-s performance was up there with their best of the season.

“I think if we were more clinical in front of goals you could have had another Sydney FC score,” Arnold said.

“Our boys really stepped up tonight, the senior boys especially. The young boys had a lot of energy.”

“Overall it was a great performance and it could have been five or six at half time.”

After picking up points but not playing their best football of the season in the last few rounds, Arnold was delighted with the reaction shown against the second-placed Reds.

“The type of football that we played was exciting to watch,” he said.

“I wanted a reaction because I didn-t think our form against Melbourne Victory was top, and our form against Newcastle last week wasn-t our best.”

And Arnold offered praise for two-goal super sub Duke, who staked his claim for a regular return to the side after struggling with a slight ankle injury this campaign.

“I think everyone knows I have a very high opinion of him,” he said. “I felt over the last few weeks he-s been getting back to his best, and I just said to him ‘it-s your night tonight-.”

“He (Duke) adds a lot of energy.”

Central Coast Mariners 3 (Duke 68-, 72-, McGlinchey 88-) Adelaide United 1 (Bowles 39-) Bluetongue Stadium, Gosford

Central Coast Mariners: 1. Mathew Ryan (Gk), 2. Daniel McBreen, 3. Joshua Rose, 4. Pedj Bojic, 5. Zachary Anderson, 6. Patrick Zwaanswijk, 7. John Hutchinson (c), 9. Bernie Ibini (29. Nick Fitzgerald 82'), 11. Oliver Bozanic (19. Mitchell Duke 61'), 14. Michael McGlinchey, 18. Nick Montgomery Substitutes not used: 20. Justin Pasfield (Gk), 13. Brent Griffiths Yellow cards: Montgomery 46-, Zwaanswijk 83' Red cards: Nil

Adelaide United: 1. Eugene Galekovic (Gk) (c), 3. Nigel Boogaard, 6. Cassio, 10. Dario Vidosic, 12. Antony Golec, 14. Cameron Watson, 16. Daniel Bowles, 17. Iain Ramsay (8. Marcelo Carrusca 79'), 18. Fabian Barbiero, 21. Jeronimo Neumann (19. Jake Barker-Daish 68'), 23. Evan Kostopoulos (4. Jonathan McKain 75') Substitutes not used: 20. Paul Izzo (Gk) Yellow cards: Neumann 45+1' Red cards: Nil

Attendance: 8,294 Referee: Peter O-Leary