Simon 'Nix all three points for Mariners

AN 80th minute strike by tireless marksman Matt Simon earned the Central Coast Mariners all three points away to Wellington Phoenix in round 5 of the Hyundai A-League played this evening.

AN 80th minute strike by tireless marksman Matt Simon earned the Central Coast Mariners all three points away to Wellington Phoenix in round 5 of the Hyundai A-League played this evening.

The late winner was just reward for a combative team performance by the yellow and navy against a Phoenix side renowned for their ability to boss their opponent on their home patch.

Livewire striker Bernie Ibini had given the Mariners the lead shortly after the half time break, tapping home from Simon-s accurate cross after attacking midfielder Daniel McBreen had released the hard working striker down the left flank.

Crucially, Simon-s neat finish just ten minutes from time put the Mariners back in the ascendancy after Wellington had restored parity through Chris Greenacre 12 minutes earlier.

After a relatively even opening to the game the Mariners began to take control of the match, with Ibini central to many of the chances crafted.

First, the 19-year-old was on the end of some neat interplay between Michael McGlinchey and McBreen, only to see his shot deflect off a Phoenix defender and away for a corner.

Then in the 33rd minute, Ibini had another goal-bound effort thwarted by the Wellington defence. Super work down the left side by Simon saw the ball eventually fall for Ibini, whose effort was only prevented from hitting the back of the net after Phoenix defender Brent Griffiths did well to desperately throw his body in the path of the ball.

But there would be no stopping Ibini - who is fast emerging as a cult figure for Mariners supporters - in the 47th minute. Playing in the number 10 role, McBreen threaded a neat pass for Simon to chase, and the ever-willing striker in turn crossed low into the box. Timing his run to perfection, Ibini prodded past Wellington custodian Tony Warner to put the Mariners a goal to the good.

Having been defeated at home to Melbourne Victory last weekend, the Phoenix quickly shifted a gear or two knowing they could ill-afford to lose their third Hyundai A-League fixture on the bounce. And, in the 68th minute the ‘Nix leveled proceedings.

The wily Greenacre - pinpointed as a player to watch by Graham Arnold earlier this week - sprung the Mariners- offside trap before finishing neatly passed Mathew Ryan, who in truth had little to do throughout the 90 minutes.

Eager to claim all three points across the ditch, Mariners boss Arnold introduced Troy Hearfield against his former club in the 73rd minute. Hearfield-s introduction to the game was met with a chorus of boos by the Yellow Fever, however this only seemed to spur the ex Pelita Jaya and Newcastle Jets ace on.

And, in the 80th minute the substitution would pay dividends for the travelling Mariners. Finding space on the right side, Hearfield crossed low for Simon who lashed the ball home from close range.

Despite a number of late raids by the hosts, the Mariners kept their nerve and controlled play to hold on to their slender advantage and claim their second 2-1 triumph in a row. The win truly kick-starts the yellow and navy-s 2011/12 Hyundai A-League campaign.

After the match, Arnold said he was proud with the way his chargers went about their business in difficult conditions at the ‘Cake Tin-.

“I thought the players worked extremely hard for each other tonight, and deserved to win the match,” he said.

“Whenever you come to Wellington and return home with all three points you-ve done something right, because the Phoenix are terribly difficult to beat here [at Westpac Stadium].”

“Matt Simon and Bernie Ibini worked well and to their credit got the goals, but I don-t want to single out any individuals. This was a true team effort.”

“Now it-s all about travel and recovery, and preparing for our next match against Melbourne Victory at home next weekend which we know will be another incredibly tough test.”

Match Details Central Coast Mariners 2 (Ibini 47-, Simon 80-) Wellington Phoenix 1 (Greenacre 68-)

Central Coast Mariners: 1. Mathew RYAN (Gk), 2. Daniel McBREEN, 3. Joshua ROSE, 4. Pedj BOJIC, 6. Patrick ZWAANSWIJK, 8. Rostyn GRIFFITHS, 9. Bernie IBINI (12. Troy HEARFIELD 73-), 11. Oliver BOZANIC (16. Brad Porter 90 + 2), 14. Michael McGLINCHEY, 18. Alex WILKINSON (c), 19. Matt SIMON (22. Mustafa AMINI 87-) Subs not Used: 20. Justin PASFIELD (Gk) Yellow Cards: Bozanic 11- Red Cards: None

Wellington Phoenix: 20. Tony WARNER (Gk), 2. Manny MUSCAT, 3. Tony LOCHHEAD, 4. Brent GRIFFITHS, 6. Tim BROWN, 7. Leo BERTOS (12. Nick Ward 66-), 9. Chris GREENACRE, 11. Daniel CORTES (13. Nick TSATTALIOS 81-), 21. Dani SANCHEZ, 22. Andrew DURANTE, 24. Alex SMITH Subs not Used: 1. Mark PASTON (Gk), 15. Cameron LINDSAY Yellow Cards: None Red Cards: None

Referee: Gerard Parsons