Fitzgerald fires Mariners to victory

Central Coast Mariners recorded their first win of the Hyundai A-League 2013/14 season in their Round 3 encounter with Adelaide United at Bluetongue Stadium on Saturday evening.

Central Coast Mariners recorded their first win of the Hyundai A-League 2013/14 season in their Round 3 encounter with Adelaide United at Bluetongue Stadium on Saturday evening.

An early goal to attacking ace Nick Fitzgerald ensured the yellow and navy - playing in pink on the night in support of women-s cancer research, prevention and support services - extended their winning streak against the Reds to nine matches.

It was a great start for the Mariners with Fitzgerald opening the scoring for Graham Arnold-s men after just two minutes.

Socceroo Mitchell Duke provided a pinpoint pass to the former Brisbane Roar forward, who made no mistake as he unleashed his strike from the edge of the area to grab his first goal of the campaign.

Fitzgerald nearly had his second of the evening not long after as Argentine import Marcos Flores sent a dangerous cross into the box. However, Fitzgerald was just unable to connect at the far post.

Flores was handed a chance of his own in the 21st minute as he linked with Duke. Unfortunately for the home side, Flores lifted his lobbed effort over the bar.

Only minutes later Adelaide winger Fabio Ferreira looked to combine with former Brondby Copenhagen attacker Brent McGrath. However Central Coast defender Zac Anderson read Ferreira-s cross well, and nodded the ball to safety.

Graham Arnold-s side had another opportunity to double their advantage ten minutes before the interval. Duke made a great run down the right flank and found the boot of New Zealand international Michael McGlinchey, however McGlinchey fired just wide.

Spanish midfielder Sergio Cirio had a chance for the Reds in the 42nd minute as he sent his shot from the edge of the area over the woodwork.

The Mariners came close to adding another to the scoreboard a minute before the half-time whistle, as Josh Rose delivered a nice cross to goal scorer Fitzgerald. But Fitzgerald was to be denied his brace by Adelaide custodian Eugene Galekovic, with the ex S.C. Beira-Mar man making a sharp reflex save.

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

The Mariners came close to adding to their account in the 69th minute as McGlinchey tried his luck inside the area. The nimble New Zealand international forced Galekovic into another impressive save.

Central Coast continued to dominate and young gun Storm Roux was nearly rewarded with his first goal of the season, but Adelaide shot stopper Galekovic once again cleared the strike.

Former Socceroo Mile Sterjovski replaced Flores with ten minutes left in the game. Arnold's substitution nearly paid instant dividends with Sterjovski almost doubling the Mariners- lead as he slammed the woodwork with a shot on the turn. The ball rebounded to another of Arnold's substitutes, Matt Simon, who pushed his chance wide.

Gombau-s charges launched a number of late raids in a bid to salvage a point from their visit to Gosford, however the Reds couldn-t quite manage to manufacture an obvious opportunity to level proceedings late on.

Ultimately, Fitzgerald-s early strike proved enough for Arnold-s men to seal all three points at Fortress Bluetongue.

Arnold told media following the game that he was happy with the way his players carried out the game plan.

“We got a clean sheet and there were a lot of promising signs,” Arnold said. “The good thing was that the boys stuck to the game plan, and had good character even though we missed chance after chance.”

“I will also say this is the best start that we-ve had in the three years I have had at the Club. We are probably at about 50 per cent of where we will be in another four or five weeks.”

“As a team the way we do things is we build into the season. We don-t want to hit round one in great form and fall away. We want to be hitting our straps a few more rounds in.”

Central Coast Mariners 1 (Fitzgerald 2-) Adelaide United 0 Bluetongue Stadium, Gosford

Central Coast Mariners: 1. Justin PASFIELD (Gk), 3. Joshua ROSE, 5. Zachary ANDERSON, 7. John HUTCHINSON (C) (6. Brent GRIFFITHS 90+3'), 8. Nick MONTGOMERY, 9. Mitchell DUKE, 10. Marcos FLORES (21. Mile STERJOVSKI 78-), 11. Nick FITZGERALD (19. Matt SIMON 66-), 14. Michael MCGLINCHEY, 15. Storm ROUX, 16. Trent SAINSBURY Substitutes not used: 12. Liam REDDY (GK), 24. Jesse CURRAN Yellow cards: Rose, Hutchinson Red cards: Nil

Adelaide United: 1. Eugene GALEKOVIC (Gk) (C), 3. Nigel BOOGAARD, 4. Jonathan MCKAIN, 5. Osama MALIK (14. Cameron WATSON 75-), 8. ISAIAS, 9. Sergio CIRIO, 13. Steve LUSTICA, 18. Michael ZULLO, 21. Tarek ELRICH, 22. Fabio FERREIRA (25. Ryan KITTO 78-), 24. Brent MCGRATH (17. Awer MABIL 59-) Substitutes not used: 20. Paul IZZO (Gk), 23. Jordan ELSEY Yellow cards: Malik Red cards: Nil

Attendance: 9,109 Referee: Peter Green