Five star Mariners hammer Phoenix

CENTRAL Coast Mariners produced a polished performance to dismantle Wellington Phoenix 5-0 at Bluetongue Stadium on Thursday night, with a brace to Bernie Ibini and goals to John Hutchinson, Daniel McBreen and substitute Mitchell Duke doing the damage in front of 6,774 fans.

CENTRAL Coast Mariners produced a polished performance to dismantle Wellington Phoenix 5-0 at Bluetongue Stadium on Thursday night, with a brace to Bernie Ibini and goals to John Hutchinson, Daniel McBreen and substitute Mitchell Duke doing the damage in front of 6,774 fans.

While the crowd that showed up for the mid-week clash against the Phoenix was well below the Mariners- season average, the supporters in attendance saw Central Coast extend its lead at the top of the Hyundai A-League - albeit potentially temporarily - to six points.

The yellow and navy looked dangerous from the get go, especially when attacking from wider areas of the pitch where they are typically clinical.

Ibini, Joshua Rose and Pedj Bojic were the three danger men of the opening stages however there were no clear-cut chances in the first 20 minutes of play.

McBreen created the first opportunity of the half with a shot from the edge of the box. The outstretched right palm of Phoenix custodian Mark Paston denied the A-League-s leading goal-getter.

A controversial hand ball appeal was a talking point of the first half as an Ibini cross seemed to strike the arm of Phoenix defender Ian Hogg in his own box. Appeals from Mariners players and fans were waved away by referee Kris Griffiths-Jones.

Ibini continued to work hard and deservedly opened the scoring in the 30th minute after some tenacious build-up play was aided by some sloppy Wellington defending.

Mile Sterjovski was instrumental in the match and it was the former LOSC Lille man who provided the pass that found Rose on the left edge of the area. Rose then looked to cross the ball to a charging Ibini but his pass took a detour, hitting Hogg and ricocheting off Paston to finally fall in the possession of Ibini who finished comfortably from close range.

Ibini-s first goal seemed to open up the match with several more chances falling to the Mariners before referee Griffiths-Jones called time on an entertaining first 45.

The home side came out in the second half eager to extend their advantage over a Wellington team that has historically struggled to secure positive results at Gosford-s idyllic bayside arena.

After plenty of near-misses in front of goal, the killer blow for Phoenix came from Mariners- skipper Hutchinson who positioned himself perfectly in the box to belt home a pin-point cross by the red hot Sterjovski 65 minutes in.

Hutchinson-s strike wasn-t the end for the Mariners as McBreen, the league-s top scorer, drifted into the six-yard box unmarked to head home his 15th goal of the season and the Mariners- third of the night with just over 20 minutes remaining.

The Mariners made it four in the 86th minute with Ibini claiming his brace. Running on to a clever throughball from McBreen, Ibini made no mistake with a classy and powerful finish at the Yellow Army end.

Four minutes later the net was rattled for the fifth and final time by ‘super sub- Duke who ran into plenty of space before confidently sliding the ball beyond the frustrated Paston.

The dominant home victory extends the Mariners- unbeaten run to seven matches, and maintains the team-s undefeated record at their fortress, Bluetongue Stadium, this season.

Indeed, in nine Hyundai A-League matches in Gosford this campaign the yellow and navy have collected a remarkable 25 points from the 27 on offer.

Central Coast Mariners play their next Hyundai A-League match away to Perth Glory, before returning to Bluetongue Stadium for three crucial games in the space of seven days.

Melbourne Victory visit Gosford on Saturday 23 February, before the Mariners host Suwon Bluewings on AFC Champions League matchday 1 on Wednesday 27 February. On Saturday 2 March, Western Sydney Wanderers arrive in town for another important Hyundai A-League battle.

Central Coast Mariners 5 (Ibini 30-, 86-, Hutchinson 65-, McBreen 69-, Duke 90-) Wellington Phoenix 0 Bluetongue Stadium, Gosford

Central Coast Mariners: 1. Mathew RYAN (Gk), 2. Daniel MCBREEN, 3. Joshua ROSE, 4. Pedj BOJIC, 6. Patrick ZWAANSWIJK (5. Zachary ANDERSON 90-), 7. John HUTCHINSON (c), 9. Bernie IBINI, 14. Michael MCGLINCHEY (29. Nicholas FITZGERALD 79-), 16. Trent SAINSBURY, 18. Nick MONTGOMERY, 21. Mile STERJOVSKI (19. Mitchell DUKE 69-) Subs not used: 20. Justin PASFIELD (Gk) Yellow cards: Zwaanswijk, Hutchinson Red cards: Nil

Wellington Phoenix: 1. Mark PASTON (Gk), 2. Emmanual MUSCAT, 4. Isaka CERNAK, 5. Michael BOXALL, 8. Paul IFILL, 10. Stein HUYSEGEMS (12. Tyler BOYD 60-), 11. Jeremy BROCKIE (9. Benjamin TOTORI 69-), 14. Ian HOGG, 16. Louis FENTON (21. Dani SANCHEZ 78-), 17. Vince LIA, 22. Andrew DURANTE (c) Substitutes not used: 20. Glen MOSS (Gk) Yellow cards: Brockie, Boyd Red cards: Nil

Referee: Kris Griffiths-Jones Attendance: 6,774