Victory sunk by Mariners

The Central Coast Mariners have stunned Melbourne Victory 4-0 in front of 18,531 fans in warm conditions at Etihad Stadium on Saturday night.

The Central Coast Mariners have stunned Melbourne Victory 4-0 in front of 18,531 fans in warm conditions at Etihad Stadium on Saturday night.

The visitors grabbed the advantage through Adam Kwasnik against the run of play after 15 minutes to lead 1-0 at the break and then bagged three more goals in nine minutes from the 75-minute mark through Matt Simon, Dean Heffernan and Nik Mrdja to put the result beyond doubt.

Melbourne dominated the opening 10 minutes, with Carlos Hernandez firing over from a free kick early and Archie Thompson, Sutee Suksomkit and Hernandez again all failing to capitalise on chances close to goal.

Having not had any direct shots at goal beforehand, their best chance having been Simon’s block on a clearance that just drifted wide in the second minute, the Mariners grabbed a surprise lead on the quarter hour.

Nicky Travis cut off a half-clearance about 35m from goal and after getting past Kevin Muscat and Mate Dugandzic he pulled the trigger from 25m with goalkeeper Glen Moss only able to block the shot, allowing Kwasnik to awkwardly volley the ball past the stranded Moss.

Kwasnik appeared to seriously injure his knee on landing but managed to return to the action a couple of minutes later and while the goal energised the visitors they were ultimately unable to put together anything meaningful.

Victory on the other hand had several more opportunities, Nigel Boogaard getting a last-gasp block on a shot from Thompson before a free kick for a foul on Suksomkit just before the break gave the hosts their best chance.

Dugandzic saw that the defence was napping and took the kick quickly to set up Thompson in the box but Danny Vukovic just managed to get his hands to the shot to preserve Central Coast’s lead at the break.

The Mariners very nearly doubled their lead straight after the resumption when Moss just got a hand to a superb volley from Matthew Lewis, who had another chance on 54 minutes after lead-up work from John Hutchison and Pedj Bojic but shot over.

A minute later Hernandez and Adrian Leijer combined to find Suksomkit with a cross at the far post but he hesitated slightly and the defence blocked his shot before Leijer’s corner was headed on by half-time sub Surat Sukha but Muscat just failed to connect at the back post.

In the 10 minutes that followed, Suksomkit and Dugandzic were replaced by Ney Fabiano and Nathan Elasi respectively and the Mariners brought on Nik Mrdja for Kwasnik and the chances continued to flow with Travis shooting just over and Hernandez curling a free kick narrowly wide.

With 15 minutes left Simon rose at the far post to meet a corner from Travis and fired a bullet header at goal that was on target before taking a slight deflection from Rody Vargas’ shoulder to make it 2-0.

Victory twice almost pulled one back with 11 minutes left through Fabiano, Vukovic blocking the first attempt and the second sailing just wide before Bojic laid off for an unmarked Heffernan in the box and he fired under Moss for 3-0.

The icing on the cake for the Mariners came with minutes remaining when Andrew Clark was on hand to cut the ball back for fellow substitute Mrdja to poke home after Moss came for Hutchison’s free kick at the near post, missed it and was then left stranded when he was knocked over.

Melbourne Victory 0
Central Coast Mariners 4 (Kwasnik 15, Simon 75, Heffernan 80, Mrdja 84)