The Western Sydney Wanderers held on for all three points after the Central Coast Mariners came hard in the second half in Gosford tonight.
With Paul Okon's side not having won in 2 months, they were hoping for a change in fortune against a Wanderers side missing several key players through injury & suspension. Josep Gombau added Jaushua Sotirio to the starting side along with giving winger Chris Ikonomidis a place on the bench.
It was the flying winger Sotirio who repaid his faith in Gombau after a quarter hour. From the corner Marcelo Carrusca fired in a training ground routine reminiscent of Paul Scholes at Manchester United, Sotirio jogged onto the lofted ball and side footed a volley in towards goal. Liam Rose flung himself at the ball but all he did was deflect the shot past Ben Kennedy for the opening goal.
Oriol Riera continued his good run of form as he approaches double figures in his seasonal goal tally. Paul Okon had given Raul Llorente the freedom of the Gosford stadium pitch and he was eventually punished by the Spanish combination. With acres of room Llorente fired in a dangerous cross that bisected the Mariners defence and hit Riera on his head, the header was fired onto the crossbar, and it had probably crossed the line before a rebound from Kennedy made the second goal of the game secure.
The second half was another in the litany of fade out performances from the Wanderers this season, as Roly Bonevacia & Mark Bridge in particular were seemingly exhausted even before an hour was up. Bridge was arguably at fault for the Mariners only goal, leaving a hole on the Mariners right flank that had to be filled by Thwaite, and the central defender was out of position to intercept the cross for new Mariners forward Peter Skapetis to head back across goal past Vedran Janjetovic.
Ultimately though, the Mariners huffed & puffed but couldn't knock the Wanderers house down to equalise. Ikonomidis' showed potential in his 45 minute cameo, and the team will look to build momentum next weekend against Wellington Phoenix before their encounters with the top 2 of Newcastle Jets & Sydney FC to round out February.
The next match for the Wanderers is against Wellington Phoenix on Sunday the 11th of February at Homebush Olympic Stadium.