Mariners edged by Glory

CENTRAL Coast Mariners’ unbeaten run in 2013 came to an end on Saturday evening with Graham Arnold’s side falling 2-1 to Perth Glory in Western Australia.

CENTRAL Coast Mariners- unbeaten run in 2013 came to an end on Saturday evening with Graham Arnold-s side falling 2-1 to Perth Glory in Western Australia.

Bernie Ibini gave the yellow and navy an early lead however strikes to Travis Dodd and Shane Smeltz either side of half time earned the purple-whites their first win of the year.

Graham Arnold-s team remain atop the Hyundai A-League ladder, however the club-s lead has now been trimmed to just one point with Western Sydney Wanderers having beaten Melbourne Victory earlier in the day.

The Mariners got off to the best possible start at nib Stadium with Ibini netting his sixth goal of the campaign only 13 minutes in. Daniel McBreen worked determinedly to win possession in the Mariners- attacking third, before Michael McGlinchey fed the onrushing Ibini. The young attacker made no mistake in finding the back of the net, sliding a clinical shot past Vukovic to give Arnold-s team the lead.

But Glory, who this week had Alistair Edwards replace Ian Ferguson as their Head Coach, restored parity to the contest 27 minutes. Dodd-s run was picked out well by midfielder Nick Ward. Controlling Ward's lofted pass at the first attempt, the former Panionios player then fired his shot beyond Central Coast gloveman Mathew Ryan.

There was a good tempo to the game and Patrick Zwaanswijk-s diagonal switches of play were causing issues for the Glory defence in the first half. Twice in the space of three minutes Bojic marauded down the right having been spotted by the elegant Dutch defender, however the end product didn-t quite match the lead-up play as Central Coast failed to trouble the Glory goal.

The Mariners- best chance regain the lead in the match came in the 38th minute. Joshua Rose and Mile Sterjovski combined well down the left, with the latter sliding a pass to McBreen in space. The A-League-s leading goal-getter struck his shot at the first attempt, however miscued his effort, sending the ball well over Vukovic-s bar.

Smeltz hasn-t had his best season in Australia-s top flight however the New Zealand international is always a handful and he proved why he is so highly rated 20 minutes after the interval. Joshua Risdon, who only a minute early cannoned a long range shot off the crossbar, floated in an inch-perfect cross which Smeltz met with purpose. Ryan got a hand to Smeltz-s header, but couldn-t manage to keep the former Gold Coast United man-s effort out.

Mariners boss Arnold changed some of his personnel and his tactics with the clock winding down however a determined Glory team restricted Central Coast to only a series of half-chances to level proceedings after Smeltz-s 64th minute goal.

Ultimately, it wasn't to be Central Coast's day as Arnold's men fell to their third defeat of the 2012/13 Hyundai A-League season.

Positively, Central Coast Mariners return to Gosford-s Bluetongue Stadium next Saturday night for Hyundai A-League round 22. The challenge of Melbourne Victory at the Mariners- idyllic bayside arena awaits, and also marks the start of an important seven days for the club. Home clashes against Suwon Bluewings (Wednesday 27 February) and Western Sydney Wanderers (Saturday 2 March) feature within the space of a week in Gosford.

Perth Glory 2 (Dodd 27-, Smeltz 64-) Central Coast Mariners 1 (Ibini 13-) nib Stadium, Perth

Perth Glory: 1. Daniel VUKOVIC (Gk), 5. Steve PANTELIDIS, 6. Nick WARD, 8. Dean HEFFERNAN, 9. Shane SMELTZ, 10. Liam MILLER, 13. Travis DODD (c), 14. Steven MCGARRY, 17. Chris HAROLD (12. Ryo NAGAI 59-), 19. Joshua RISDON, 23. Michael THWAITE Substitutes not used: 2. Jack CLISBY, 15. Brandon O-NEILL, 30. Lewis ITALIANO (Gk) Yellow cards: Thwaite Red cards: Nil

Central Coast Mariners: 1. Mathew RYAN (Gk), 2. Daniel MCBREEN, 3. Joshua ROSE, 4. Pedj BOJIC, 6. Patrick ZWAANSWIJK, 7. John HUTCHINSON (c), 9. Bernie IBINI (29. Nick FITZGERALD 68-), 14. Michael MCGLINCHEY, 16. Trent SAINSBURY, 18. Nick MONTGOMERY (5. Zac ANDERSON 71-), 21. Mile STERJOVSKI (19. Mitchell DUKE 55-) Substitutes not used: 20. Justin PASFIELD (Gk) Yellow cards: Nil Red cards: Nil

Referee: Jarred Gillett