The Mariners moved off the bottom of the table on Sunday, as two first half goals and a big defensive effort helped them to a 2-1 win over Adelaide United at Central Coast Stadium.
A rare strike from Kye Rowles and a trademark long-range effort from Milan Ðurić had the Mariners up by two goals before Ben Halloran’s curler made for some nervous moments as the Mariners held on for almost 45 minutes.
Alen Stajcic made a number of changes to the side that lost narrowly to Sydney last weekend, with Tommy Oar, Lewis Miller and Jordan Murray all back into the starting lineup.
The hosts began at a ferocious pace on the hunt for an opener and after Jair and Jordan Murray almost worked an opening in the second minute the Yellow & Navy went ahead after four.
A neatly worked free kick routine from the left side saw Ðurić feed skipper Oar down the wing. His looping back post cross was knocked across goal by Jordan Murray and in the defensive uncertainty Gianni Stensness worked the ball to Rowles.
The young centre back met the ball as it dropped from the air and fired into the bottom corner to give the Mariners an early lead.
— Central Coast Mariners (@CCMariners) December 22, 2019
Despite their bye in the previous week Adelaide looked lethargic as the half progressed and were a slip away from falling further behind when Murray back heeled to DeSilva on the edge of the box.
As the winger teed up to shoot his footing gave way and he fell to the ground allowing the visitors to close him down before his second effort was flicked past the post by Isaac Richards.
The Mariners looked the only side likely of scoring in the opening exchanges and following on from another neatly worked free kick routine it looked as if a second was on its way; with Ðurić loading up from distance only to fire wide.
The Reds began to get up to speed and had a couple of half chances with the best falling to Halloran but Mark Birighitti was equal to the effort and was quick to get down and push the ball away from danger.
Minutes before half-time though the Mariners extended the lead as Ðurić collected outside the area, cut inside one player and fired an unstoppable strike into the bottom left corner giving the keeper no chance and grabbing his fourth goal of the campaign.
The deficit was halved within a minute of the restart via a fantastic strike from Halloran as Nathan Konstandopolos released him down the right wing.
The winger took two touches before cutting inside and unleashing a rocket into the top left corner past a stranded Birighitti and cutting the noise at Central Coast Stadium.
Despite the initial shock of the goal the Mariners remained assured in possession and home debutant Jair was unlucky not to grab his first A-League goal in 11 months when Oar’s cross found the Brazilian at the back post, only for it to be forced wide.
Danny DeSilva tried a cheeky effort that ended up on the roof of the net as the Mariners looked to push their advantage back out to two goals, but they held on against a fast finishing Adelaide side to record their third win of the season.
The result lifts the Mariners to ninth spot on the table, and is a big boost ahead of the New Years Eve clash with Perth Glory next round.