Montgomery winner lifts Mariners to A-League summit

CENTRAL Coast Mariners have claimed top spot on the Hyundai A-League ladder following a 2-1 victory over Adelaide United in the Round 9 clash at a hot and humid Bluetongue Stadium on Saturday evening.

Nick Montgomery celebrates his winning goal. (c) John Dewberry / Central Coast Mariners

CENTRAL Coast Mariners have claimed top spot on the Hyundai A-League ladder following a 2-1 victory over Adelaide United in the Round 9 clash at a hot and humid Bluetongue Stadium on Saturday evening.

Goals from consistent left-back Josh Rose and British import Nick Montgomery ensured Central Coast continued on its four match winning streak at Gosford-s idyllic bayside arena.

The hosts started the game brightly and had a few early chances to take the lead.

New Zealand international Michael McGlinchey found space behind the Reds- defence, and shot smartly at goal. However, young custodian Paul Izzo did well to drop low to his left and save.

McGlinchey was back in the thick of the action not long after as he provided a delightful pass to fellow midfielder Oliver Bozanic. Unfortunately for Graham Arnold-s men, Bozanic-s ambitious effort from range flew well over the woodwork.

The Reds started to press and took the lead 17 minutes in as Bruce Djite opened the scoring for the visitors. After a neat pass from Zenon Caravella, Djite fired a powerful strike from outside the box, sending the ball past Central Coast gloveman Justin Pasfield.

The Mariners had a good opportunity to level proceedings shortly after as McGlinchey once again found Bozanic. Curling a shot at goal from the edge of the area, Bozanic-s strike flew just over the goal.

John Kosmina-s men were looking to add to the scoreboard but young midfielder Evan Kostopoulos failed to trouble Pasfield as his long-range effort sailed high.

Just before the break, marauding defender Rose thundered a powerful effort into the back of the net from range, restoring parity to the clash.

The Mariners began the brighter of the two teams after the half-time break, and had a delightful opportunity to double their advantage in the 50th minute as young gun Bernie Ibini blasted his strike over the bar from close range.

The yellow and navy continued to dominate in the second stanza and were rewarded for their determined display just 14 minutes from time when Montgomery smashed his shot past Izzo from just inside the area.

Some good build up play involving Daniel McBreen and substitute Mitchell Duke opened the chance for Montgomery, who made no mistake in blasting home what would prove to be the winner.

Eager not to head home empty handed, Adelaide pushed forward and came close to finding an equaliser through Osama Malik. Malik attempted to caress a shot past Pasfield from long range, but pushed his effort just wide.

The Mariners continued to control the tempo of the game as the clock wound down.

And, Montgomery-s first strike for the Mariners combined with Rose-s sixth Hyundai A-League goal in the yellow and navy proved to be enough for the home team to replace their round 9 rivals atop the competition ladder.

Post match, Central Coast Mariners Head Coach Graham Arnold said he knew that despite the stifling conditions, his team would give him yet another determined performance.

“I-ve said it many times before but it is such a joy to work with these guys because you know that they are going to go out there and give everything they-ve got,” Arnold said.

“We have to be honest and say that we were very sloppy in the final third, and on many occasions we had three-v-two or three-v-one opportunities and we didn-t execute it properly like we have been in the first eight rounds.”

“(But) I put that down to the heat factor. The first thing that goes when you-re fatigued and tired is your brain, and decision-making.”

Arnold also had praise for match-winner Montgomery.

“Monty is fitting in very well with (John) Hutchinson beside him. The experience that Hutch and Monty give in front of two youngsters in Zac Anderson and Trent Sainsbury is invaluable.”

“But I am very happy with the whole team.”

Central Coast Mariners travel north to Newcastle next Saturday for the second F3 Derby clash of the season. The round 10 clash at Hunter Stadium kicks off at 7:45pm.

Central Coast Mariners 2 (Rose 45, Montgomery 76-) Adelaide United 1 (Djite 17-) Bluetongue Stadium, Gosford

Central Coast Mariners: 20. Justin Pasfield (Gk), 2. Daniel McBreen (6. Patrick Zwaanswijk , 3. Joshua Rose, 4. Pedj Bojic, 5. Zachary Anderson, 7. John Hutchinson (c), 9. Bernie Ibini (19. Mitchell Duke 58-), 11. Oliver Bozanic (8. Adriano Pellegrino 72-), 14. Michael McGlinchey, 16. Trent Sainsbury, 18. Nick Montgomery

Substitutes not used: 30. David Bradasevic (Gk)

Yellow cards: Hutchinson, Bojic, Montgomery, McBreen

Red cards: Nil

Adelaide United: 20. Paul Izzo (Gk), 2. Osama Malik, 3. Nigel Boogaard, 5. Iain Fyfe (17. Iain Ramsay 85-), 6. Cassio (c), 7. Zenon Caravella (9. Serginho van Dijk 62-), 11. Bruce Djite (21. Jeronimo Neumann 78-), 14. Cameron Watson, 18. Fabian Barbiero, 22. Fabio Ferreira, 23. Evan Kostopoulos

Substitutes not used: 30. John Hall (Gk)

Yellow cards: Nil

Red cards: Nil

Referee: Alan Milliner

Crowd: 6,885