The Central Coast Mariners travelled to Wollongong on Sunday to face the Wellington Phoenix and came away with all three points and yet another clean sheet thanks to goals from Matt Simon and Oliver Bozanic.
Simon’s first half strike led the way for a dominant performance by the visitors that was polished off by Bozanic’s penalty early in the second half to ensure the Mariners remained top of the table as the Phoenix were reduced to 10-men after almost half an hour.
Alen Stajcic named an unchanged lineup for the match, and Simon was in good form early on with a fierce turn and strike that stung the palms of Stefan Marinovic in the Phoenix net.
While the Mariners were dominating the ball in the matches infancy, the turning point of the match arrived via the back pocket of referee Daniel Elder who sent off Wellington’s David Ball for a lunging tackle on Simon and the Phoenix could have no complaints.
Simon recovered and 13 minutes later opened the scoring on the end of an inch perfect pass by Marco Ureña.
The Costa Rican’s slide rule ball found Simon in behind the home side’s backline and he made no mistake to slot the ball home past an onrushing Marinovic.
Joshua Nisbet replaced Michal Janota at half time, and the midfielder rattled a fizzing strike off the upright from outside the box just seconds into the half.
Nisbet would be involved again minutes later, this time along with several others, as the ball pin balled around the Wellington penalty box.
It found its way to the constantly threatening Daniel DeSilva, who teased Hudson-Wihongi with a heavy touch and the Phoenix defender brought DeSilva down with a lunge that saw Elder point to the penalty spot.
Bozanic stepped up to take his first A-League penalty and he fired a perfect spot kick into the top corner and doubled the lead of the Yellow and Navy.
As the clock ticked closer to 90, the Phoenix tired with the man disadvantage, while a healthy contingent of travelling supporters hit full voice as the Mariners approached a sixth win of the season.
Stajcic made further changes late on but there would be no further troubling of the scorers as the Mariners moved to 18 points and registered a fourth clean sheet of the season, while getting one back over the Phoenix after the defeat just two weeks ago.
The Mariners will now look to recover and begin training for Adelaide as they get set to face the Reds on Friday night at Coopers Stadium.