Central Coast captain Oliver Bozanic hailed his side’s wok ethic after two second-half goals sealed a hard-fought 2-0 win over Western Sydney, heaping more pressure on under-fire Wanderers boss Carl Robinson.
In energy-sapping heat at Gosford Stadium on Saturday, which led to two drinks breaks in each half, Cy Goddard rifled home his first A-League Men’s goal from close range to open the scoring in the 59th minute.
Wanderers substitute Dimi Petratos almost equalised as he carved a way past a Mariners defence that looked all at sea, but goalkeeper Mark Birighitti made a superb reflex save to protect his clean sheet.
Bozanic put the icing on the cake in his 100th league appearance for the Mariners with a superb curling free kick in the seventh minute of added time.
The result gave Central Coast back-to-back home wins over Sydney-based rivals, continuing their impressive start to life under Nick Montgomery.
“We work hard together as a team, we attack together as a team and we’ve had some really good plays and created loads of chances,” Bozanic said.
“If we continue to finish those chances we’ll continue to score and win games.”
Bozanic’s left-footed free kick – virtually the final kick of the game – sent the small but vocal home crowd into a frenzy.
“When it came off the boot I felt like it was a good chance,” Bozanic said.
“I’ve had a couple over the last few weeks that have been pretty close but it’s good to get off the mark for the season.”
Western Sydney have just one win from five league matches and were knocked out of the FFA Cup this month by second-tier APIA Leichhardt.
The poor start to the season has sparked fevered speculation around Robinson’s position as coach, following a significant recruiting drive that was expected to lift the Wanderers into title contention.
Robinson recalled Tomer Hemed to his starting line-up in place of Petratos against Central Coast but not even the veteran goalscorer’s return could breathe life into the Wanderers’ gun-shy attack.
Petratos had one of few clear-cut chances for the visitors and almost made himself a hero in the 82nd minute when he faked out three Mariners defenders, who all went to ground trying to block shots that weren’t fired.
But the striker couldn’t finish past Birighitti.
“He should have scored,” Robinson said.
“You do all the work and go through all the fundamentals and phases of the game for opportunities like that.
“It was probably an easier chance than what they had but you don’t score and the keeper makes a really good save.
“That was one chance we had but I think we turned down too many opportunities, especially in the first half, to shoot.”
Central Coast full-back Lewis Miller was shown a yellow card for simulation when he went down looking for a penalty under pressure from Thomas Aquilina when the Mariners held a 1-0 advantage during the second half.