Central Coast Mariners’ hopes of advancing to the knockout phase of the AFC Champions League for a second successive season received a significant boost on Tuesday, with Phil Moss’s men triumphing 1-0 over Beijing Guoan in Gosford.
Central Coast Mariners- hopes of advancing to the knockout phase of the AFC Champions League for a second successive season received a significant boost on Tuesday, with Phil Moss-s men triumphing 1-0 over Beijing Guoan in Gosford.
Marcel Seip-s stunning 74th minute volley from Kim Seung-yong-s precise pass lifted the Mariners from fourth to first place in Group F of Asia-s premier club competition, one point ahead of Japan-s Sanfrecce Hiroshima and Korea-s FC Seoul who drew 2-2 in Korea later in the evening.
Beijing Guoan are also on five points after four matchdays of the elite competition, meaning the Mariners- next home clash against FC Seoul on Wednesday 16 April will go some way to deciding whether the yellow and navy ultimately advance to the round of 16 again.
At worst, the team from the New South Wales Central Coast will be alive on the sixth and final matchday later this month when they travel to Japan to play Sanfrecce Hiroshima at the Big Arch Stadium on Wednesday 23 April.
Indeed, Dutchman Seip had yet to register a goal for the yellow and navy before Tuesday-s match between the Mariners and Guoan, though the defender picked the perfect moment to etch his name on the scoresheet for the first time.
After a period of intense pressure inside the Beijing box, the former VVV Venlo player showed immaculate technique and all his experience to thunder his strike beyond Chinese custodian Yang Zhi after Korean Kim had dinked a ball in his direction.
Seip-s goal 16 minutes from time came after the Mariners, and goalkeeper Liam Reddy especially, repelled the best advances of Gregorio Manzano-s men.
Just before half time the man known as ‘Rocket- to his teammates spectacularly denied attacker Shao Jiayi, as he leapt to his left and blocked with his right arm when it seemed certain Beijing were about to break the deadlock.
And, Reddy was at his brilliant best again in the second half as he dived to his right to push Zhang Xizhe penalty effort away for a corner after Brent Griffiths had brought down Guoan gun Joffre Guerrón inside the area.
Reddy-s heroics from Xizhe’s spot-kick appeared to inspire the yellow and navy who would push on to net the game-s only goal five minutes later.
The Mariners might have netted more goals in the fixture, with sound opportunities falling the way of Kim and Bernie Ibini in the first 45 and the home team looking dangerous after Seip-s scintillating strike.
But one was enough for the home team, and following the contest Central Coast boss Moss said his side deserved its win.
“Certainly I am very happy with the result but I think it definitely would have been three points that got away, or two if it ended up in a draw, because I thought first half we were very dominant and we created a lot of chances,” Moss said.
“We had every base covered and the boys really went out tonight and stuck to the game plan, and it-s a credit to the players because they-re the ones that go out there, do the hard yards and make everyone on the Central Coast really proud.”
The former Manly United mentor also revealed that Reddy-s penalty save had come after some detailed analysis by his coaching staff.
“Rocket really earned his money tonight with two fantastic saves, the first one just before half time and then the penalty save,” he said.
“Credit to John Crawley, our goalkeeper coach. He analysed their penalty takers and he showed Rocket some footage before the game and that basically came down to the save because Rocket picked the same way.
“That-s a big part of coaching when you can get those big moments right, so credit to ‘JC- and also to Rocket.”
Central Coast Mariners will travel to Western Australia on Friday ahead of Saturday-s Hyundai A-League round 26 clash with Perth Glory on Saturday evening.
With yet another Hyundai A-League Finals Series appearance assured, the yellow and navy will be aiming for maximum points again to ensure they consolidate their spot in second place in Australia-s top flight against the purple-whites.
Central Coast Mariners FC 1 (Seip 74-)
Beijing Guoan 0
Central Coast Stadium, Gosford
Central Coast Mariners FC: 3. Joshua ROSE, 4. Marcel SEIP, 5. Zachary ANDERSON (15. Storm ROUX 55-), 6. Brent GRIFFITHS, 7. John HUTCHINSON (C), 8. Nick MONTGOMERY, 9. Mitchell DUKE, 12. Liam REDDY (Gk), 20. Bernie IBINI, 26. KIM Seung-yong (28. Glen TRIFIRO 87-), 27. Isaka CERNAK (11. Nick FITZGERALD 70-)
Substitutes not used: 1. Justin PASFIELD (Gk), 17. Anthony CACERES, 21. Mile STERJOVSKI, 29. Matthew SIM
Yellow cards: Griffiths
Red cards: Nil
Beijing Guoan: 3. Yu YANG, 4. Zhou TING, 5. Darko MATIC, 8. Joffre GUERRÓN, 10. Zhang XIZHE (9. Tan TIANCHENG 82-), 13. Xu YUNLONG (C), 15. Peter UTAKA (11. Song BOXUAN 59-), 22. Yang ZHI (Gk), 29. Shao JIAYI, 31. Zhao HEJING, 39. Piao CHENG (16. HA Dae-sung 82-)
Substitutes not used: 1. Zhang SIPENG (Gk), 4. Zhang XIAOBIN, 7. Yang YUN, 24. Li HANBO
Yellow cards: Nil
Red cards: Nil
Referee: Pereira (Sri Lanka)