Nick Montgomery hailed the perseverance of strike duo Marco Urena and Jason Cummings as they helped the Central Coast Mariners to an impressive 3-0 A-League Men win over a 10-man Adelaide United outfit in Gosford.
Adelaide defended stoutly after goalkeeper Joe Gauci was dismissed in the first half and the hard work of the Mariners’ duo looked to be in vain.
But eventually the pressure tolled when Urena gave the Mariners the advantage with a classy volley in the 77th minute.
The floodgates opened when Cummings, who was a constant nuisance for the Adelaide defence, was rewarded for his graft with the Mariners’ second.
Substitute Matt Hatch made it three late into added time.
After failing to win a league game in January and February, Montgomery’s side finished March undefeated with three wins and two draws and will have confidence they can mount a challenge for the finals.
“They sat back and we were unlucky a couple of times,” Montgomery said.
“I told them (Urena and Cummings) last week that I needed more intensity. Jason could have had a hat-trick and he deserved that goal tonight.
“They track back after we went through a period where we didn’t have that. It was a good team performance and I’m delighted with three points.”
Adelaide struggled to fashion many opportunities away from home and their hopes took a blow when Gauci was dismissed for clattering into Urena on the edge of the box.
Initially referee Alireza Faghani produced a yellow card but eventually the Iranian official reviewed the decision on VAR and brought out the red, much to the dismay of Adelaide coach Carl Veart.
“We always seem to be on the wrong side of a lot of VAR calls,” Veart said.
“The referee saw it as a yellow and then VAR obviously thought it was clear and obvious.
“It seems to be a story for us with VAR this year and us, we just can’t get on the right side of it.”
The dismissal forced Lachlan Brook off and 17-year-old keeper Steven Hall came on to play in goal.
Adelaide defended narrowly and kept the Mariners at bay for the best part of 50 minutes but eventually they succumbed to the home side’s numerical advantage.
Urena got the breakthrough when he volleyed a Lewis Miller cross in with a quarter of an hour left.
Adelaide’s heads sunk and with defeat likely they allowed Cummings to pop up in the 90th minute.
Hatch added the Mariners’ third with a well-taken finish two minutes later.
The only concerns for the Central Coast was a late dismissal for Brazilian playmaker Moresche after he picked up a second yellow card of the night and a possible concussion for leftback Jacob Farrell.