March 2, 2013
Wanderers beat Mariners to take top spot
The Western Sydney Wanderers surged to the top of the A-League ladder after claiming their biggest scalp, knocking the Central Coast off the summit with a 1-0 win on Saturday night.
An 81st-minute goal from Labinot Haliti ensured the Wanderers became the first team to beat the Mariners on home turf this season and put the new boys in first place - a spot the Mariners had occupied for 14 straight weeks.
The win also saw them equal Melbourne Victory's all-time longest winning streak of eight straight triumphs.
"The feeling of being top of the table hasn't really sunk in yet," Wanderers coach Tony Popovic said.
"Winning this game is just really pleasing. It was tough conditions and they are an excellent team.
"We weren't at our best on the ball but we found a way to win.
"They're undefeated at home, so to come here and win ... it's just a great day for our football club."
The Mariners squandered many chances but their best opportunity came when unlikely penalty-taker in 'keeper Mathew Ryan had his second-half spot-kick saved by Ante Covic.
With both sides boasting equally the best defensive records in the league, it was always going to be hard work getting a goal in a fast and furious encounter played in front of a 18,721-strong crowd.
Neither rain or Cityrail track works were going to stop the more than 6,000 Wanderers faithful making the trip to Gosford - the largest contingent of visiting fans at Bluetongue Stadium.
The Mariners, starting with the same team that dismantled Melbourne Victory 6-2 last week, looked like getting on the scoresheet early when last Saturday's hat-trick hero Michael McGlinchey just shaved the post with a shot less than two minutes in.
Adam D'Apuzzo had a chance to give the visitors the advantage in the 29th minute when he found himself one-on-one with the 'keeper but sent his shot over the crossbar.
The Mariners kept firing in the opening stanza with Daniel McBreen and Bernie Ibini getting chances but the Wanderers' stoic defenders Michael Beauchamp and Nikolai Topor-Stanley were always perfectly placed to defuse the efforts.
The Mariners could have gone ahead when awarded a penalty after Wanderers Croatian import Dino Kresinger brought Patrick Zwaanswijk down in the box.
Gloveman Rayn stepped up to the mark in the 52nd minute with fellow 'keeper Covic saving his shot.
Mariners coach Graham Arnold was left to rue missed opportunities.
"I thought we played very well, football-wise we dominated," Arnold said.
"But if you don't take your chances you cop one up the backside at the other end and that's what happened.
"We had some good chances, they had one and they finished it.
"We've thrown three points away tonight."
|Central Coast Mariners||Western Sydney FC|
|1 Matthew Ryan||1 Ante Covic|
|6 Patrick Zwaanswijk||5 Michael Beauchamp|
|4 Pedj Bojic||3 Adam D'Apuzzo|
|3 Joshua Rose||4 Nikolai ToporStanley|
|16 Trent Sainsbury||18 Iacopo La Rocca|
|18 Nick Montgomery||17 Youssouf Hersi|
|7 John Hutchinson||8 Mateo Poljak|
|14 Michael McGlinchey||6 Jerome Polenz|
|2 Daniel McBreen||21 Shinji Ono|
|9 Bernie Ibini-Isei||19 Mark Bridge|
|19 Mitchell Duke||9 Dino Kresinger|
|20 Justin Pasfield||Jerrad Tyson 20|
|5 Zachary Anderson||Tarek Elrich 11|
|11 Oliver Bozanic||Labinot Haliti 7|
|29 Nick Fitzgerald||Aaron Mooy 10|
|Nick Fitzgerald for Mitchell Duke (67)||Aaron Mooy for Shinji Ono (60)|
|Zachary Anderson for Nick Montgomery (85)||Tarek Elrich for Iacopo La Rocca (88)|
|Joshua Rose (20)||Nikolai ToporStanley (49)|
|John Hutchinson (47)||Youssouf Hersi (54)|
|Mitchell Duke (66)||Jerome Polenz (69)|
|Nick Fitzgerald (86)||Labinot Haliti (83)|
|Daniel McBreen (88)|
|· Squads: Central Coast Mariners | Western Sydney FC|