Mariners show Heart to earn important win

A well-constructed and well-taken 77th minute goal by Bernie Ibini helped Central Coast Mariners secure a significant 2-1 win over Melbourne Heart at AAMI Park on Sunday.

A well-constructed and well-taken 77th minute goal by Bernie Ibini helped Central Coast Mariners secure a significant 2-1 win over Melbourne Heart at AAMI Park on Sunday.

The triumph lifted the yellow and navy to 36 competition points with just three regular season rounds to play, level with Melbourne Victory and -- depending on the result of Sunday-s second match between Western Sydney Wanderers and Perth Glory -- into third place on the Hyundai A-League ladder.

Indeed, the Mariners were made to fight from a goal down in the Victorian capital having fallen behind to Orlando Engelaar-s audacious 34th minute strike. After running onto a ball won by Massimo Murdocca, the former Dutch international launched a stunning shot into the back of the net from inside his own half.

Engelaar-s strike -- which caught Liam Reddy off his line -- drew instant comparisons to famous goals around the globe, including Wayne Rooney-s stunning goal against West Ham United overnight, David Beckham-s speculator against Wimbledon in 1996, and Mbida Messi-s Menpora Cup goal for Persib Bandung in September 2013.

But Engelaar-s amazing effort combined with some strong play in patches by John van-t Schip-s men wasn-t enough to deny a Mariners outfit unified by their recent eight day journey to the orient and back to Australia. Indeed, the Mariners played mid-week away to Beijing Guoan in the 2014 AFC Champions League, before returning to Australia via Shanghai to challenge the red & whites.

And the togetherness their time in camp helped nurture was on display just before half time when the team rallied to level proceedings with one of the final kicks of the first 45. Combative striker Matt Simon found the club-s South Korean ace Kim Seung-yong, with the former Gamba Osaka and Ulsan Hyundai gun wrong-footing his defender before placing his shot beyond Andrew Redmayne.

Mariners boss Phil Moss made three substitutions in the second stanza and it was the second of his changes, Ibini, who made the most telling contribution 12 minutes after being introduced to the contest. Custodian Reddy launched a ball long, and Dutch defender Marcel Seip headed the ball into the path of the on-loan Shanghai SIPG man. Racing onto Seip's knockdown, Ibini sent a crisp effort on the angle into the back of the net.

Despite the long hours of travel plus the two matches in four days Moss-s men have had to endure, the yellow and navy showed impressive stamina to finish the game against the desperate Heart outfit strongly. Indeed, Anthony Caceres and Nick Fitzgerald combined to go close to a third for Central Coast, while the team worked tirelessly to ensure they didn-t let their lead slip.

Following the game, Moss said the win was a team effort and just reward for the hours of work and effort his players and staff have put in over the past week.

“Our players and staff have worked around the clock this week with all the travel combined with three matches in eight days,” Moss said. “What they-ve done for the Club has been completely selfless, and they-ve all done their part to ensure we-ve had a successful week.”

“Tomorrow will be just their second day off in 24 days, so they more than deserve a day free to spend with their family and friends before we begin our build up to our clash with Wanderers in Gosford next Saturday,” he said.

Moss added that his players had executed the coaching staff-s game plan to perfection against Heart.

“We had to push through a lot of fatigue in the first half, and subsequently we relied our defensive structure to ensure we remained in the game," he said. "It took a freak goal by Engelaar to ultimate break us down, but the character and courage we showed to find a way back into the game just before half time gave us the platform to go on and win it in the second half."

“We also had a clear plan to make sure we had a mixture of pace and leadership to come on in the second half, and the boys who started and the boys who came off the bench all played their role today. It-s all about the squad and I was happy with everyone-s input this afternoon.”

“The way we finished over the top of them showed we are in great shape, and I couldn-t be happier with the solidarity, belief, courage, mental strength and physical stamina we showed today,” Moss concluded.

Central Coast Mariners will play their next Hyundai A-League match against Western Sydney Wanderers at Gosford-s Central Coast Stadium on Saturday 29 March 2014, before hosting Beijing Guoan on 2014 AFC Champions League matchday 4 at home on Tuesday 1 April.

Melbourne Heart FC 1 (Engelaar 34-) Central Coast Mariners FC 2 (Kim 45+1, Ibini 77-) AAMI Park, Melbourne

Melbourne Heart FC: 1. Andrew REDMAYNE (Gk), 3. Robbie WIELAERT (C), 4. Orlando ENGELAAR, 7. Iain RAMSAY (10. Harry KEWELL 64-), 8. Massimo MURDOCCA, 13. Jonatan GERMANO (21. Stefan MAUK 81-), 15. David WILLIAMS, 17. Jason HOFFMAN, 19. Benjamin GARUCCIO, 23. Mate DUGANDZIC, 24. Patrick KISNORBO Substitutes not used: 6. Patrick GERHARDT, 20. Tando VELAPHI (Gk), 22. Nicholas KALMAR Yellow cards: Germano Red cards: Nil

Central Coast Mariners FC: 12. Liam REDDY (Gk), 3. Joshua ROSE, 4. Marcel SEIP, 5. Zachary ANDERSON, 8. Nick MONTGOMERY (C), 11. Nick FITZGERALD, 17. Anthony CACERES, 19. Matt SIMON (9. Mitchell DUKE 74-), 21. Mile STERJOVSKI (20. Bernie IBINI 65-), 25. Eddy BOSNAR, 26. KIM Seung-yong (7. John HUTCHINSON 55-) Substitutes not used: 1. Justin PASFIELD (Gk), 15. Storm ROUX Yellow cards: Fitzgerald Red cards: Nil

Referee: Hiroyuki KIMURA