Central Coast Mariners suffered a 3-1 defeat to Melbourne Victory in their round 18 Hyundai A-League clash at Central Coast Stadium on Saturday evening.
A brace to James Troisi combined with a goal to Archie Thompson sealed Melbourne’s seventh victory of the campaign.
Bernie Ibini had put the Mariners ahead in the 11th minute, however the youngster’s goal wasn’t enough for the yellow and navy infront of 9,138 at the Club’s idyllic bayside base.
The Mariners started the match the brighter of the two sides and had a few chances to open their account early on.
Three minutes in new defensive recruit Eddy Bosnar was handed a dangerous free kick opportunity outside the area, but he fired his left-foot shot powerfully wide of the post.
Attacking ace Ibini netted his first goal since returning from Chinese Super League outfit Shanghai SIPG in the 11th minute after combining with left back Joshua Rose following his impressive run down the left.
And, the Mariners had a good chance to double their advantage shortly after as former East Gosford Rams player Matt Simon provided a pinpoint pass to Ibini. However, Victory shot stopper Nathan Coe did well to thwart the Central Coast young gun.
Bosnar almost doubled the home side’s lead just before the half hour mark as he struck a brilliant free kick from range. Unfortunately for Phil Moss’ men, Bosnar’s shot was deflected away for a corner.
Only moments later, Thompson had a one-on-one chance with Liam Reddy, but the sometime Socceroo failed to trouble the Central Coast gloveman as he pushed his effort wide.
The visitors had another opportunity to restore parity to the clash soon after as Guilherme Finkler tried his luck after linking with Thompson, but he was denied by New Zealand international Storm Roux who cleared the ball to safety.
Victory levelled the score on the stroke of half time via the boot of James Troisi after a free kick from Finkler rebounded off the woodwork and kindly into the path of the former Atalanta man.
Melbourne started the second stanza brightly and took the lead in the 50th minute after defender Adama Traore found Thompson following great build up play. Thompson made no mistake as he netted his first goal against the Mariners in 11 matches.
Only moments later, the yellow and navy were awarded a free kick following Pablo Contreras’s challenge on Sterjovski. Former Suwon Bluewings man Bosnar fired a shot on target, forcing Coe into a diving save.
Sterjovski came close to finding an equaliser for the yellow and navy just before the hour mark as he sent his shot wide of goal after linking with Ibini.
Melbourne added to the scoreboard only minutes later as Troisi found the net for the second time in the encounter after connecting with former Mariner and on-loan Celtic FC midfielder Tom Rogic.
Former Perth Glory man Isaka Cernak was introduced for Sterjovski with 25 minutes left to play, making him the first player in Australia’s top flight to represent six Hyundai A-League clubs.
However the goals from Troisi and Thompson proved enough for Victory to clinch all three points.
Central Coast Mariners boss Moss refused to dwell on the defeat post match.
“I think we can certainly take some positives out of this,” Moss said. “I am very happy with my players and the way they fought until the end. No one threw the towel in, everyone was fighting until the end and we could have had another couple of goals on another day.”
“I was very happy with our first half performance,” he added. “I thought we did very well and we probably should have gone 2-0 up with Bernie’s chance, but it wasn’t to be.”
“It’s a rebuilding year and we’re going to get these results in a rebuilding year. We just have to bounce back next week,” he said.
Central Coast Mariners 1 (Ibini 11’)
Melbourne Victory 3 (Troisi 45+1’, 62’, Thompson 50’)
Central Coast Stadium, Gosford
Central Coast Mariners FC: 12. Liam REDDY (Gk), 3. Josh ROSE, 5. Zachary ANDERSON, 7. John HUTCHINSON (C), 11. Nick FITZGERALD, 15. Storm ROUX, 17. Anthony CACERES, 19. Matthew SIMON, 20. Bernie IBINI (9. Mitchell DUKE 71’), 21. Mile STERJOVSKI (27. Isaka CERNAK 65’), 25. Eddy BOSNAR (4. Marcel SEIP 77’)
Substitutes not used: 1. Justin PASFIELD (Gk), 29. Matt SIM
Yellow cards: Caceres
Red cards: Nil
Melbourne Victory FC: 1. Nathan COE (Gk), 2. Pablo CONTRERAS, 3. Adama TRAORE, 4. Nicholas ANSELL, 6. Leigh BROXHAM (C), 7. Guilherme FINKLER, 10. Archie THOMPSON, 14. James TROISI, 16. Rashid MAHAZI (5. Mark MILLIGAN, 21. Tomas ROGIC (17. James JEGGO 80’), 24. Scott GALLOWAY (23. Adrian LEIJER 91’)
Substitutes not used: 13. Andrew NABBOUT, 30. Keegan COULTER (Gk)
Yellow cards: Galloway, Troisi, Coe
Red cards: Nil
Referee: Matthew GILLETT