Sizzling Central Coast smash Victory at sodden Bluetongue

CENTRAL Coast Mariners have reclaimed their position atop the Hyundai A-League ladder following a comprehensive 6-2 win over Melbourne Victory in the Round 22 clash at a sodden Bluetongue Stadium on Saturday evening.

CENTRAL Coast Mariners have reclaimed their position atop the Hyundai A-League ladder following a comprehensive 6-2 win over Melbourne Victory in the Round 22 clash at a sodden Bluetongue Stadium on Saturday evening.

A second half hat-trick from New Zealand international Michael McGlinchey, a superb brace from striker Mitchell Duke, as well as a thunderous goal by substitute Nick Fitzgerald ensured the yellow and navy extended their unbeaten streak at Gosford-s idyllic bayside arena to ten matches.

Mark Milligan netted a penalty for Victory in the first 45 while defender Trent Sainsbury unfortunately turned the ball into the back of his own net following a mix-up with impressive goalkeeper Mathew Ryan.

Tony Popovic-s Western Sydney Wanderers had momentarily leap-frogged the Mariners into first place on the Hyundai A-League ladder following their 1-0 win over Perth Glory at Parramatta Stadium, but Graham Arnold-s team fired themselves back on top of the ladder with a dominant display.

The hosts looked dangerous from the outset and had a few chances to open their account in the early going.

The first real opportunity of the match came in the 5th minute as British import Nick Montgomery sent Melbourne shot stopper Nathan Coe scrambling as he fired his strike just wide of goal.

Central Coast continued to dominate and were rewarded for their efforts 17 minutes in as young gun Duke opened the scoring for the home team following some fancy footwork down the right flank from attacking ace Bernie Ibini, who delivered a pinpoint cross to Duke.

The visitors began to find their feet shortly after and had a few chances to restore parity to the contest. Francesco Stella fired a left-foot strike however he failed to trouble Mariners gloveman Ryan who made a comfortable save.

Things momentarily turned sour for the home team in the 23rd minute as Ange Postecoglou-s men were awarded a penalty for a late challenge on Daniel Mullen from goalscorer Duke. Milligan made no mistake levelling the score for the away side.

The Mariners responded soon after though as Duke returned to hero status by netting his second goal of the night. The pacey attacker blasted a low strike past Coe following a marauding run through midfield and pinpoint cross from Joshua Rose.

The yellow and navy started the second stanza brightly and the Bluetongue faithful didn-t have to wait long to see another goal added to the scoreboard. In the 56th minute, diminutive midfielder McGlinchey found his fourth goal of the season, as he fired a classy strike past Coe following an impressive pass from Duke.

The hosts were handed a penalty after Michael McGlinchey was fouled by Adama Traore. Unfortunately for Central Coast, McBreen-s thunderous effort slammed the woodwork with about 25 minutes remaining in contest.

Although Central Coast were dominating the clash Ange Postecoglou-s team were given a potential lifeline back into the contest via Sainsbury-s own goal. Ryan could only parry Diogo Ferreira-s centre, with the ball rebounding off Sainsbury and into an unguarded goal.

The Mariners though, would score three times in the final ten minutes of play to blitz the Victory.

Nick Fitzgerald netted his first goal of the campaign in the 81st minute after he teamed up with McGlinchey.

The Kiwi international was back in the action shortly after as he added another goal to his name. Attacking ace Bernie Ibini played provider, sending a pinpoint pass to McGlinchey who made no mistake slamming past Coe.

Only minutes later, veteran marksman Daniel McBreen delivered a great ball to McGlinchey who rounded out the scoring for the yellow and navy with a delicate chip over Coe. McGlinchey-s added time effort ensured he is just the second player in Mariners history, following McBreen, to score a hat-trick in the Hyundai A-League.

In his post match press conference, Central Coast Mariners Head Coach Graham Arnold express his delight that his players reacted so positively following their disappointing display in Perth last weekend.

“We-ve talked about a reaction this week and putting on a good performance and I thought it was a real good game of football. I thought we were superb tonight,” he said.

While he described hat-trick hero McGlinchey as “unreal”, Arnold also explained the crucial role the senior players within his squad are playing as the team continues its stellar season.

“The senior players set the culture and they set the standards and if they maintain high standards then the kids will come with them. So we wanted to put on a good performance tonight, and we were “hot” tonight and I thought that it could have been more. I thought that if we scored that penalty then it was definitely all over.”

Arnold suggested that changes may be made for the mid-week duel with Suwon Bluewings in the AFC Champions League, with Zac Anderson, Oliver Bozanic, Mile Sterjovski and Nick Fitzgerald all in the frame to feature against the Korea Republic powerhouse.

The former Qantas Socceroos mentor also outlined that the Mariners will be shooting for the second round of Asia-s premier club competition this year, and that his Mariners will relish the tag of competition minnows.

“We like that type of underdog status and we-ll go for it.”

Central Coast Mariners 6 (Duke 17, 32-, McGlinchey 56-, 86-, 90+1-, Fitzgerald 81-) Melbourne Victory 2 (Milligan 22- (pen), Sainsbury (Own goal) 69-) Bluetongue Stadium, Gosford

Central Coast Mariners: 1. Mathew Ryan (Gk), 2. Daniel McBreen, 3. Joshua Rose, 4. Pedj Bojic, 6. Patrick Zwaanswijk, 7. John Hutchinson (c) (11. Oliver Bozanic 85-), 9. Bernie Ibini, 14. Michael McGlinchey, 16. Trent Sainsbury, 18. Nick Montgomery (5. Zachary Anderson 90-), 19. Mitchell Duke (29. Nick Fitzgerald 69-) Substitutes not used: 20. Justin Pasfield (Gk) Yellow cards: Montgomery Red cards: Nil

Melbourne Victory: 39. Nathan Coe (Gk), 3. Adama Traore, 5. Mark Milligan, 6. Leigh Broxham, 11. Marco Rojas, 14. Billy Celeski, 18. Francesco Stella (26. Andrew Nabbout 46-), 23. Adrian Leijer (c), 31. Scott Galloway (13. Diogo Ferreira 62-), 32. Connor Pain, 33. Daniel Mullen (21. Spase Dilevski 78-) Substitutes not used: 1. Tando Velaphi (Gk) Yellow cards: Broxham, Milligan Red cards: Nil

Attendance: 6,081 Referee: Strebre Delovski