Mariners close in on top two after home ground three-peat

The Central Coast Mariners have closed the gap between them and second placed Adelaide United to just a point with two games in hand after a well earned 2-nil win in the two sides’ Hyundai A-League Week 20 clash on Sunday afternoon at Bluetongue Stadium.

The Central Coast Mariners have closed the gap between them and second placed Adelaide United to just a point with two games in hand after a well earned 2-nil win in the two sides- Hyundai A-League Week 20 clash on Sunday afternoon at Bluetongue Stadium.

Matt Simon-s brilliant solo effort early in the second half was backed up by an own goal to Sergio Van Dijk as the Mariners heaped pressure on the visitors in front of a healthy Boxing Day crowd, leaving Head Coach Graham Arnold proud of his side-s efforts.

“It was a good Christmas present for everyone. I thought the second half, we played much stronger and everyone played better,” said Arnold.

“I think part of our strength is definitely our flanks. The belief in the dressing room was always good.”

Both sides had plenty of chances early on, Rini Coolen-s men were unable to find a late Christmas present in the opening moments of the match as a Van Djik free kick was sent just wide of the post after a touch from Mariners custodian Mathew Ryan.

Argentine playmaker Patricio Perez hit the ground in the 17th minute as Adelaide midfielder Joe Keenan went looking for the back of Ryan-s net but was stopped after a great intercept from the Mariners youngster.

Not long after, the Yellow and Navy was close to providing the opener for the Central Coast faithful after Pedj Bojic was brought down by Adelaide defender Cassio inside the box but was not awarded a penalty by referee Ryan Shepheard.

Cassio was back in the action shortly after as he crossed the ball to Van Djik from his free kick that landed over the woodwork, failing to get the travelling opponents a goal in front before the break.

Central Coast skipper Alex Wilkinson came fighting for all three points after returning to the field for the second half as his header left Eugene Galekovic with a vital save to make in the 50th minute.

Only a minute later, Matt Simon came back to haunt the Reds from outside the box after breaking Adelaide-s defence smashing the ball to score the first goal of the afternoon for Graham Arnold-s men.

New Zealand All-Whites representative Michael McGlinchey was looking for his first goal of the season and another one for the scoresheet as he sent the ball over the woodwork.

Adelaide did not want to leave the Central Coast empty-handed as Cassio sent his shot straight past the face of goal.

Former Mariners defender Nigel Boogaard made his long awaited return to his old stopping ground today after spending much of this campaign on the sidelines after suffering from an ankle injury since joining the South Australian club. It wasn-t the warm welcoming he was looking for though, as he was awarded the first yellow card of the encounter after his hit on Matt Simon.

Reds boss Rini Coolen decided it was time for the visiting squad to make some changes with twenty minutes remaining. Cameron Watson was introduced for Argentine midfielder Marcos Flores and skipper Travis Dodd left the field for Iain Ramsey.

The home team were further ahead soon after as a corner from Michael McGlinchey sent into the box resulted in an own goal for striker Sergio van Djik.

The goals from Simon and the error from the Dutch striker were enough for the yellow and navy to secure its second consecutive win.

The Central Coast Mariners next match of the Hyundai A-League 2010/11 season will be against Melbourne Victory next Friday, 31 December at Bluetongue Stadium. Kick-off is at 6:00pm AEDT and tickets are available by CLICKING HERE or by phoning 132 849.

Mariners five match Memberships are a great way to save and catch every minute of the Mariners- feast of Festive Football this summer. To purchase CLICK HERE or call 1300 767 442.

Match Details

Central Coast Mariners 2 (Simon 51-, Van Djik 78- (og)) Adelaide United 0

Central Coast Mariners: 20. Mathew RYAN (gk), 3. Joshua ROSE, 4. Pedj BOJIC, 6. Patrick ZWAANSWIJK, 8. Rostyn GRIFFITHS, 10. Patricio PEREZ (22. Mustafa AMINI 80-), 11. Oliver BOZANIC, 14. Michael McGLINCHEY, 18. Alex WILKINSON (c), 19. Matt SIMON (7. John HUTCHINSON 89-), 23. Adam KWASNIK (2. Daniel McBREEN 76-)

Subs Not Used: 30. Paul HENDERSON (gk).

Yellow Cards: Griffiths 68-, Simon 72- Red Cards: Nil

Adelaide United: 1.Eugene GALEKOVIC (gk), 3.Nigel BOOGAARD (7.Lucas PANTELIS 85-), 4.Iain FYFE, 6.CASSIO, 8.Adam HUGHES, 9.Sergio VAN DIJK, 10.Marcos FLORES (14. Cameron WATSON 69-), 12.Paul REID, 13.Travis DODD (c) (17.Iain RAMSAY 69-),18.Fabian BARBIERO, 26. Joe KEENAN

Subs Not Used: 20. Mark BIRIGHITTI (gk).

Yellow Cards: Barbiero 64-, Hughes 67- Red Cards: Nil

Referee: Ryan Shepheard Crowd: 6,249 @ Bluetongue Stadium, Gosford