Interim coach Alen Stajcic feels it was tiredness, rather than nerves, that almost caused Central Coast Mariners to surrender a three-goal lead in their 3-2 win over Newcastle Jets.
The Gosford club took the honours in the F3 derby at McDonald Jones Stadium, claiming just their second win of the season.
It came in the wake of them sacking Mike Mulvey as coach following the 8-2 thrashing at home to Wellington Phoenix the previous weekend.
Stajcic, who has been appointed until the end of the season, praised the team for their effort against a Jets team battling for a Final Series spot.
"To see the spirit and the effort and the way the lads went about their work, you could see they were fighting and scrapping for every moment; trying to win every ball, every challenge," said the former Matildas coach.
Stajcic said the players had given everything in terms of energy, effort and fortitude, and also felt they did well mentally.
The Mariners scored three goals in a 16-minute spell in the second half, and still had that 3-0 advantage with 16 minutes left.
The coach said he had watched them in a number of games this season where they had dominated but gone on to concede two or three goals in a hurry.
They conceded twice in the space of seven minutes this time, with Roy O'Donovan and Ronny Vargas on the scoresheet.
But, thanks to the heroics of keeper Ben Kennedy in saving an injury-time penalty from O'Donovan – a spot-kick that had to be retaken following encroachment – Stajcic's team held on to pick up the three points.
He said of their habit of conceding goals quickly: "It's something the team needs to address in terms of tactical shape and mentality as well. I think they did that tonight; I think it was fatigue more than mentality.
"I'm really pleased with them and I know it'll be a big relief for them to overcome the dark places they felt they were in during the week."
Central Coast are 17/4 to win their next game against Adelaide United, who are 4/7 with the draw 16/5.
The Mariners are 18/1 to win 1-0.
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