Second-placed Central Coast Mariners eased to a 4-0 win over Sydney FC in their National Youth League encounter at Cromer Park on Sunday.
The Mariners went into the penultimate round match-up knowing they likely needed a win to stay in touch with leaders Melbourne Victory.
Nevertheless it was Sydney FC that started the brighter of the two sides, enjoying some promising early moments in attack.
The home side seemed certain to score through Jarrod Kyle but Central Coast goalkeeper David Bradasevic denied the Sky Blues' new signing at near point-blank range.
The visiting Mariners took a while to find their feet but fifteen minutes in, Jordan Crighton fired over with an angled shot on the quarter-hour mark.
His effort marked a period of dominance for the Mariners as they produced a succession of shots at goal, perhaps the most notable effort via Louis Bozanic.
The Mariners duly made the breakthrough on 30 minutes with Adam Jenner stroking the ball home from 12 yards after some impressive lead-up work from Patrick Dixon.
Crighton then seemed set to double the advantage only to be thwarted by the onrushing Ryan Norval, who deflected the ball narrowly wide as he dived at the attacker's feet.
The Mariners, however, were not to be denied and took a stranglehold on the contest with a second goal four minutes from the interval.
Dixon forced the ball home on the far post at the second attempt with the Sky Blues stretched to breaking point following a fast break down the left.
The Mariners opened the second period much brighter than the first and Dixon was denied only by an impressive fingertip save by Norval barely 20 seconds after the restart.
A rasping Daniel Bragg effort from the ensuing corner again had Norval stretching as the ball flew narrowly wide of the post.
The Mariners looked comfortable throughout the second half and extended their lead midway through as Keiren Paull coolly finished past the exposed Norval after exchanging passes with Aaron Peterson on the edge of the penalty area.
Norval was kept busy throughout but he could do nothing about a wonderful strike from distance by substitute Jenner to conclude the scoring in the latter stages.
There was time for further Sydney FC disappointment as Jared Lum's softly-hit penalty was easily claimed by substitute Central Coast goalkeeper Daniel Sadaka.
Sydney FC 0
Central Coast Mariners 4 (Jenner 30, 81, Dixon 41, Paull 70)
Sydney FC: 1. Ryan Norval (gk), 3. Aaron Calver, 4. Robert Speranza (2. Keifer Dotti 55'), 5. Jarrod Kyle, 8. Mitchell Mallia, 9. Jordan Figon (7. Zachary Nicolis 55'), 10. Christopher Naumoff, 11. Tom Slater, 12. Lukas Stergiou, 14. Jared Lum (17. Theo Kofinas 60'), 16. Alex Urosevski
Substitutes not used: 20. Anthony Bouzanis (gk)
Central Mariners: 1. David Bradasevic (20. Daniel Sadaka h/t), 3. Michael Neill, 4. Keiren Paull, 5. Hayden Morton, 6. Daniel Bragg, 7. Adam Jenner, 10. Tomislav Cirjak (8. Dillon Vorster 60'), 11. Louis Bozanic (16. Joshua Forbes 60'), 12. Patrick Dixon, 14. Jordan Crighton (9. Aaron Peterson 53'), 15. Brad McDonald