The Central Coast Mariners returned to outright second on Saturday night, with a resolute display on the road in Newcastle helping them to a 1-0 victory over the Jets.
Marco Urena returned for the Mariners with Alou Kuol back to the bench, while Daniel DeSilva missed his second game in row through injury.
The hosts had the first proper chance just three minutes in through Jason Hoffman, but Mark Birighitti was equal to the task with an important save and Ruon Tongyik was on hand to deny Matt Millar with a crunching follow up tackle.
Matt Simon and the returning Urena looked to combine but Simon was denied by the side netting and offside flag before earning the Mariners first corner not long after.
— Central Coast Mariners (@CCMariners) May 15, 2021
Gianni Stensness and Tongyik were both yellow carded as the contest got physical through the half, and the visitors looked to impose themselves on the match.
It remained all square after 45 minutes though, and the Mariners came out of the blocks much quicker in the second half.
Josh Nisbet forced a save from Lewis Italiano early on, and six minutes came the best chance of the match as Dan Bouman was collected in the box and the referee pointed to the spot.
There was a delay as VAR confirmed the call but when it did, Simon made no mistake, firing low into the corner to put the Mariners ahead with his 10th goal of the A-League campaign.
Simon was replaced not long after by Alou Kuol, and the Jets were pushing for an equaliser when Birighitti acrobatically tipped Roy O’Donovan’s shot over the crossbar before punching clear from the resulting corner.
Kye Rowles was on hand with a big intervention to deny Valentino Yuel as the game entered the final 20 minutes, and he was important bringing the ball out of the backline, forcing a number of Jets players into fouling.
There were some nervy moments as the Jets pushed for a goal late, but it was to no avail as the Mariners held strong for a second #F3Derby win of the season.
The win sets up a big match for the Mariners next weekend as the team travels to Melbourne to face ladder leaders Melbourne City.