Simon double earns Mariners third win

Central Coast are already certain of finishing bottom of the A-League, but they gave their fans something to cheer when they beat Western Sydney 3-1.

The Mariners won for just the third time this season in their final home game of the campaign.

Skipper Matt Simon scored twice, including one from the penalty spot, as the Gosford club ended Wanderers' five-game winning streak at Central Coast Stadium.

Western Sydney, coming off a 1-1 derby draw with Sydney, fell behind 11 minutes before the break when they conceded a free-kick just outside the box.

Simon took a long run up to the ball and smashed it through the wall beyond teenage keeper Jack Greenwood.

The Mariners doubled their lead seven minutes into the second half when Greenwood struck Jordan Murray in the face when trying to punch clear a high ball.

Murray did his best to keep out Simon's powerful penalty, but despite getting a hand to the shot he couldn't keep it out.

The keeper made a full stretch save to deny Aiden O'Neill four minutes later, but defender Kye Rowles scored his first A-League goal with a header off the ensuing corner kick from Jack Clisby.

Mark Bridge came off the bench for his 250th A-League appearance and within seconds got onto the scoresheet when he smashed home a penalty after Jacob Melling pushed Rashid Mahazi over inside the box.

Wanderers had an extra man for the final four minutes, after Rowles was shown a straight red card for a dangerous, lunging challenge on Alexander Baumjohann.

The visitors had two late chances to reduce the deficit but Mariners keeper Adam Pearce made a diving save to deny Bruce Kamau and Abraham Majok blasted over the crossbar five minutes into added time.

Meanwhile, minor premiers Perth Glory are 13/10 to win the Grand Final while Sydney FC are 2/1 and Melbourne Victory 5/1.

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Victory still challenging for second

Georg Niedermeier scored his first goal for Melbourne Victory to seal a 2-1 win over A-League bottom club Central Coast Mariners.

Victory ended their home season by rebounding from their midweek 4-0 drubbing in the Asian Champions League at the hands of Guangzhou Evergrande.

They will go into the final two rounds of the season two points behind Sydney FC in the battle a second-place finish that would earn a place in next year's Asian Champions League preliminary round.

Niedermeier delivered the win 11 minutes from time at AAMI Park as he converted a cross from Kosta Barbarouses.

Ola Toivonen had given the home side the lead, with Matt Simon levelling from the spot for the Mariners.

Keisuke Honda had a 25-yard effort well saved by keeper Ben Kennedy in the 12th minute, with the Japanese star then finding the side netting from Barbarouses' cross.

Victory went ahead with Toivonen's 12th league goal of the campaign midway through the first half, as he finished off after playing a one-two with Elvis Kamsoba in the penalty area.

Kennedy saved from Barbarouses and James Troisi before the break, but it was the Mariners who scored next when Thomas Deng tripped Simon who took the penalty himself and beat Matt Acton.

Leigh Broxham's strike flew just wide midway through the second half, with Victory then going ahead for the second time through Niedermeier.

Acton made a superb save late on to deny Stephen Mallon and preserve the home side's lead.

Coach Kevin Muscat was pleased what he saw from his team, particularly after the disappointment of their Chinese trip.

"It was a massive response from the playing group and in the end we got our just rewards with the result, but first and foremost it was a performance that gives you that opportunity," he said.

Victory are 17/10 to win their next game against Adelaide United, who are 8/5, with the draw 9/4.

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Glory aim to bounce back

Perth Glory coach Tony Popovic is seeking a quick response from his table-topping side as they look to take a step closer to the A-League Premiers' Plate.

The Glory suffered just their second defeat of the season last weekend when they lost 2-0 to defending champions Melbourne Victory.

It still left them six points clear of second-placed Sydney FC in the race for the minor premiership and they now face a Central Coast side that are bottom of the table.

After their only other loss, against the Sky Blues in December, Perth started a 13-game unbeaten run by putting four past the Mariners in Gosford.

Going into the repeat visit to Central Coast Stadium, Popovic said it was important not to look too far ahead.

"If we can get a little improvement in a few areas then that puts us in a good position to get the result we want," said the former Western Sydney coach.

"We haven't lost one in a long time; we never said that we would go through without losing, we never said it was going to be easy."

Popovic added: "It's a new experience for our club and the players that we are on top and Melbourne Victory showed us the ultimate respect in the way they played. They got the result but that also shows how far we've come and how we've evolved this season."

Perth are expected to bring striker Andy Keogh back into the starting side after he was used off the bench in the last two games.

The Glory have a superb away record this season, with seven wins and four draws from their games on the road.

Perth Glory are 2/5 to win their next game against Central Coast, who are 13/2 with the draw 4/1.

Golec rewarded for hard work

Defender Antony Golec is pleased he's been able to make an impact at Wellington Phoenix since joining in the January transfer window.

The former Australia U23 international, who was one of three players coach Mark Rudan brought in during the window, has played the full 90 minutes in each of the club's last three games.

Golec has played a bigger part than many might have expected, given that he had not featured at all for Central Coast this season before his switch.

The Phoenix have been glad they signed the centre-back, as since he joined they have had to deal with a host of injuries.

Dylan Fox and Louis Fenton both suffered season-ending injuries, while fellow defenders Steven Taylor, Michal Kopczynski, Tom Doyle and Justin Gulley have picked up various knocks, strains, tears and breaks.

The 28-year-old has helped Wellington win their last three games to climb into the top four.

"By no means did I walk in. I had to work hard and some injuries to the boys meant I got my opportunity and I'd like to think I took it," he said.

"But at the same time the boys have helped by playing well which makes it a lot easier. I'm just working hard and doing what I have to do for the team.

"Whether I'm playing or on the bench I'm just doing what's best for everyone. You've just got to give 100 per cent and keeping wanting to improve, that's all you can do and the rest is up to the coach."

Rudan could have Taylor and Gulley back for Sunday's game away to fifth-place Adelaide United.

The Phoenix are 13/5 to win their game against Adelaide, who are 19/20, with the draw 13/5.

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Kurz to leave Adelaide at season’s end

Adelaide United coach Marco Kurz is to leave the club at the end of the season.

The 49-year-old German will see out his second campaign at the Reds but said talks about a renewal of his contract had not worked out.

Kurz has been linked with the vacancy at second-bottom Brisbane Roar.

Chairman Piet van der Pol had issued a statement last week after Kurz had accused him of leaving him waiting a month for a reply after leaving him a message.

It left the pair looking unlikely to reach a resolution about a new deal, and Kurz says he they did not share a "common vision" for the club.

"Our goals are very different and therefore a renewal of my contract does not make sense," he said.
 
"Regardless of this decision, it is important now to focus on reaching our aims for the season and to secure a spot in the finals."

Kurz guided the Reds to success in the FFA Cup last year, when they beat Sydney FC in the final.

The club have spent the whole of this season in the Finals Series spots, and though they have not won in four games they are still likely to finish in the top six.

United are sixth, and have a five-point gap above Newcastle Jets with five rounds to go.

Van der Pol said in a statement: "After meeting with Marco…I informed him of our decision not to extend his contract beyond this season. In the coming weeks we will be identifying potential candidates."

Kurz has denied speculation he had held talks with Brisbane, who parted with coach John Aloisi in late December.

Adelaide United are 16/1 to win the Grand Final.

The Reds are 4/7 to win their next game against Central Coast, who are 17/4 with the draw 16/5.

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Stajcic salutes Mariners spirit

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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Kennedy saves clinch win

Keeper Ben Kennedy's two late penalty saves helped Central Coast cause an F3 Derby shock with a 3-2 win away to Newcastle Jets.

Kennedy faced a penalty in injury time at McDonald Jones Stadium that would have earned the Jets a point, after Irish striker Roy O'Donovan was fouled in the area by Jonathan Aspropotamitis.

He dived to his left to block O'Donovan's spot-kick, but Daniel Georgievski followed up to poke the ball home.

Georgievski, though, was one of several players who had encroached into the area before O'Donovan had made connection with his penalty so the kick had to be retaken.

Kennedy was again the hero, making a similar save to his left to deny O'Donovan and secure just Central Coast's second win of the season.

The Mariners were in dreamland after taking a 3-0 lead against their derby rivals, with goals from Jordan Murray, Connor Pain and Jem Karacan.

Playing their first game under interim coach Alen Stajcic, the visitors went ahead nine minutes into the second half as Matthew Millar sent Murray behind the defence and he squeezed his shot under Glen Moss.

Millar's cross was deflected into the path of Karacan who thundered the ball home for the second goal on 64 minutes and it was quickly 3-0 as Murray and Jack Clisby combined to set up Pain.

O'Donovan scored against his former club to give them some hope seven minutes later, and the Mariners lead was reduced further when Nigel Boogaard's shot was parried by Kennedy against Ronald Vargas and into the net.

Newcastle were denied at the end as a Kaine Sheppard shot was blocked on the line by Sam Graham.

Newcastle Jets are 9/4 to win their next game against Wellington Phoenix, who are 23/20 with the draw 12/5.

The Jets are 12/1 to win 1-0.

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Stajcic named Mariners caretaker coach

Central Coast have appointed Alen Stajcic as their caretaker coach for the rest of the season.

The former Matildas coach has replaced Mike Mulvey, who was sacked hours after the team were thrashed 8-2 at home by Wellington Phoenix at the weekend.

The Mariners are bottom of the A-League table with just seven points from 21 games.

Stajcic, who was sacked as Matildas coach in January, has not been a senior men's coach previously.

"I would like to thank the Central Coast Mariners for providing me this opportunity; this is a club with a very rich history, which is something that everyone is committed to restoring," he said.

"We're well aware of the hard work ahead of us, but that starts now. I relish a challenge and can't wait to get started."

Mariners sporting director Mike Phelan said Stajcic's job would be to stabilise everyone at the club and help position the club going forward.

He added: "At the end of the season, we will assess the situation but Alen's role at the moment is to generate some momentum leading into the back end of the season – we will discuss the future during that time and at the end of that time."

Mulvey became the fourth coach to be axed by the Gosford club in the past five years.

Since Graham Arnold, who had led them to the championship, resigned in 2013 they have sacked Phil Moss, Tony Walmsley, Paul Okon and now Mulvey.

The Mariners' only win this season came in round 12 against Melbourne City. They have since picked up just two points from a possible 27.

Central Coast are 7/1 to win their next game against Newcastle Jets, who are 1/3 with the draw 17/4.

The Mariners are 8/1 to win by a one-goal margin.

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Rudan praises Phoenix reaction

Wellington Phoenix coach Mark Rudan says it was the response of his players, and not the scoreline, that pleased him most after their 8-2 thrashing of Central Coast.

The New Zealand side moved into the A-League top four on goal difference above Adelaide United with the victory in Gosford.

It was the biggest win in the club's history, with leading scorer Roy Krishna on target twice to join Sydney FC's Adam le Fondre at the top of the Golden Boot standings.

As far as Rudan was concerned, his pride came from the way the players were able to bounce back after a 1-0 home defeat to Sydney FC.

A run of just two points from four games had left the Phoenix vulnerable to being caught by seventh-placed Newcastle Jets.

The victory means they have increased that gap to five points, with six matches left of the regular season.

Speaking after the Mariners match, Rudan said: "I don't think any coach thinks they're going to hit eight past an opponent be it home or away, but certainly if you looked at the reaction from two weeks ago, it's a long time between drinks particularly after a loss.

"We worked extremely hard on making sure we weren't complacent, it was always going to be a banana-skin game as far as we're concerned, they had nothing to lose."

If they can stay in fourth spot it will earn Wellington a home final – a major improvement after they finished just one point above bottom side Central Coast last season.

Krishna moved to a personal best 14 goals for the season and is now within two of the current club record of 16 set by Jeremy Brockie in 2012-13.

The Phoenix are 1/1 to win their next game against Western Sydney, who are 5/2, with the draw 13/5.

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Central Coast axe Mulvey as coach

Mike Mulvey has been sacked as Central Coast Mariners coach after his side's 8-2 thrashing at the hands of Wellington Phoenix.

The Gosford club released a statement hours after the match to confirm his departure.

The Mariners are bottom of the A-League with just seven points from 21 games.

Mulvey, who joined the Mariners before the start of the season, had insisted after the Phoenix defeat that he wouldn't walk away from the job.

But the club took the decision out of his hands, saying they had parted ways with him with immediate effect.

The statement went on: "With six games remaining in the Hyundai A-League 2018/19 season, the club will issue a statement when a decision has been made regarding who will lead the team during this period.

"At this stage, there are no other changes to the club's other coaching and football support staff."

Mulvey led Brisbane Roar to the championship in 2013-14 and was named A-League coach of the year in the same season.
But he was sacked early in the following season after winning just one of the first six games.

He replaced Paul Okon as Mariners coach last April, after the club had finished with the wooden spoon.

The Mariners were in the spotlight during pre-season as they gave Usain Bolt the chance to earn a professional deal, but it didn't work out for the former Olympic legend.

The club's hopes that Scotland international striker Ross McCormack would fire them to success were dashed when he was injured – he scored just one goal in five games during his loan spell from Aston Villa.

Central Coast have only won one game all season and have conceded 13 goals in their last two games.

Mulvey had said after the Wellington game: "You could tell it was a little bit of a toxic atmosphere tonight, a lot of negativity around the place and that doesn't help. I don't blame the fans – it is a symptom of where we are now."

Central Coast are 6/1 to win their next game against Newcastle Jets, who are 4/11 with the draw 4/1.

The Mariners are 22/1 to win 1-0.

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