Mariners end 2012 with glory

CENTRAL Coast Mariners have ended 2012 in fine fashion, defeating a ten-man Perth Glory outfit 1-0 in the Hyundai A-League Round 14 clash at Bluetongue Stadium on New Year’s Eve.

Bernie Ibini celebrates his match-winning goal. Photo: John Dewberry

CENTRAL Coast Mariners have ended 2012 in fine fashion, defeating a ten-man Perth Glory outfit 1-0 in the Hyundai A-League Round 14 clash at Bluetongue Stadium on New Year-s Eve.

A 68th minute goal from Bernie Ibini ensured Central Coast continued on its winning streak at Gosford-s idyllic bayside arena and its dominant record over the purple-whites.

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

The first opportunity of the match came in the 17th minute as Mariners right-back Pedj Bojic went on a marauding run down the right flank and delivered a dangerous cross to stand-in captain Michael McGlinchey. McGlinchey couldn-t quite connect with Bojic-s ball, as former Mariners- shot stopper Danny Vukovic raced off his line to claim possession.

Perth were handed a delightful opportunity to break the deadlock just before the interval, as a left-footed cross from attacking midfielder Steven McGarry found the usually clinical Shane Smeltz who missed from close range.

Graham Arnold must have provided some sage words to his troops at the interval, as the hosts began the brighter of the two teams after the half-time break. And, the yellow and navy did manage to find the back of the net soon after the restart. Unfortunately for the partisan crowd of 14,591 at Bluetongue Stadium, Adam Kwasnik-s headed effort was ruled offside.

Central Coast had another opportunity to open their account shortly after with a Bojic free kick from outside the box. Nevertheless, the defender-s effort from range sailed well over the woodwork.

In the 68th minute Arnold-s team found the decisive goal of the contest via the boot of substitute Ibini. Oliver Bozanic provided a pinpoint pass to the attacking ace, who made no mistake in lifting his strike past Vukovic from close range.

Glory mentor Ian Ferguson decided it was time to make changes to his side in a bid to take something from the match, and subsequently introduced Billy Mehmet and Nick Ward for Joshua Risdon and Travis Dodd.

However, things went from bad to worse for the visitors with van den Brink given his marching orders after receiving his second yellow card of the match for his foul on Mile Sterjovski.

Central Coast continued to dominate and came close to doubling their advantage with just over ten minutes remaining. A well-taken corner from Bojic found the head of Sainsbury, who was just unable to find the back of the net.

Goal scorer Ibini was looking to add to the scoreboard in the dying stages of the match, but the young gun failed to test Vukovic as he fired his shot high and wide.

Nevertheless Ibini-s third goal of the campaign proved to be enough for the yellow and navy to consolidate their place atop the Hyundai A-League ladder, and finish 2012 with an impressive home record at Bluetongue Stadium.

Central Coast Mariners 1 (9. Bernie Ibini 68-) Perth Glory 0 Bluetongue Stadium, Gosford

Central Coast Mariners: 1. Mathew Ryan (Gk), 3. Joshua Rose, 4. Pedj Bojic, 5. Zachary Anderson, 8. Adriano Pellegrino (9. Bernie Ibini 53-), 11. Oliver Bozanic (13. Brent Griffiths 88-), 14. Michael McGlinchey (c), 16. Trent Sainsbury, 18. Nick Montgomery, 21. Mile Sterjovski, 23. Adam Kwasnik (19. Mitchell Duke 80-)

Substitutes not used: 20. Justin Pasfield (Gk)

Yellow cards: Ryan 87-

Red cards: Nil

Perth Glory: 1.Danny Vukovic (Gk), 3. Bas van den Brink, 5. Steve Pantelidis, 7. Jacob Burns (c), 8. Dean Heffernan, 9. Shane Smeltz (12. Ryo Nagai 85-), 10. Liam Miller, 13. Travis Dodd (4. Billy Mehmet 71-), 14. Steven McGarry, 19. Joshua Risdon (6. Nick Ward 71-), 21. Scott Jamieson

Substitutes not used: 30. Lewis Italiano (Gk)

Yellow cards: van den Brink 58-, 76-, Burns 89-, Vukovic 94-

Red cards: van den Brink 76‘

Attendance: 14,591

Referee: Strebre Delovski