Skipper’s maiden strike secures points

Central Coast Mariners skipper Alex Wilkinson has celebrated his first ever Hyundai A-League goal, in a thrilling 2-1 victory over Perth Glory, to help the Mariners keep the pace with the competition frontrunners.

Central Coast Mariners skipper Alex Wilkinson has celebrated his first ever Hyundai A-League goal, in a thrilling 2-1 victory over Perth Glory, to help the Mariners keep the pace with the competition frontrunners.

Wilkinson slid home from close range on 42 minutes and while Mile Sterjovski equalized in the second half, Matt Simon sealed the points with just a minute left of normal time, thrilling the small yet vocal crowd of 5,139 fans on a cool night in Canberra.

While the Mariners were searching for their first win since the opening round, the Glory were looking to make it three wins in a row, and started brightly enough, Victor Sikora shooting straight at Danny Vukovic on four minutes, after good lead up work by Wayne Shroj and Naum Sekulovski.

Nik Mrdja was looking lively in the early stages, well blocked by the Glory defence after finding his way into the penalty area, before being involved in a well constructed 1-2 with John Hutchinson, the latter feeding Matt Simon down the right channel, allowing the Qantas Socceroo to launch a good ball into the area, Perth eventually clearing the danger after the ball had bounced around in the box.

Vukovic was called upon again soon after, to produce a fine one-handed save to deny Branko Jelic, after last week-s two goal hero got his head to a Jacob Burns free kick.

Mrdja was the man amongst the action on 17 minutes, sending Michael McGlinchey down the left flank, his cross only just snatched by Tando Velaphi, under the nose of a lurking Matt Simon.

The Mariners were pushing forward on a regular basis, McGlinchey found himself in space in the midfield, and sent a pass to the feet of Andrew Clark, forcing Perth to clear on his turn, and minutes later, McGlinchey fired over the bar from the edge of the box after a good ball in from Brad Porter.

Perth very nearly went ahead just after the half hour, Branko Jelic watching the ball cannon into the crossbar, after a strike on the edge of the box which was straight out of the top drawer.

But the Mariners hard work was rewarded on 42 minutes, and it not only ended a two game team goal drought, but a much longer drought for the scorer.

Skipper Alex Wilkinson had played 91 Hyundai A-League matches before tonight, and had never been able to celebrate finding the back of the net, but when John Hutchinson-s perfectly weighted free kick was headed on by Pedj Bojic, and Velaphi-s save fell at Wilkinson-s feet, the club-s most capped player slid a left-footed effort past Velaphi, and.his delight was obvious.

While the Central Coast was celebrating, Perth-s frustration grew after the break, with two bookings in quick succession, while David Mitchell made a change just nine minutes in to the second half, bringing on Todd Howarth at the expense of Scott Neville.

Mrdja found himself in the clear on 64 minutes as the Mariners kept piling on the pressure, but Velaphi did well to race out of his goals to smother at Mrjda-s feet, just as he was pulling the trigger against his former club.

Perth however thought they had an equaliser soon after when Mile Sterjovski chipped Vukovic, only to find the assistant-s flag already raised.

With the clock winding down, Brad Porter appeared to have chested down a cross from the right, only for Ben williams to point to the spot after he ruled Porter to have handballed.

Perth-s marquee man Mile Sterjovski stepped up, but Vukovic proved he was more than up to the challenge, saving the low drive, but the Mariners- custodian could do nothing to stop Sterjovski from tapping in the rebound.

There was more drama to come however, Perth had the chance to take the lead when Wayne Shroj headed against the crossbar from eight yards, while Nigel Boogaard saw a header just clear the bar at the other end.

Deservedly though, the Mariners- wouldn-t have to settle for just as point, Velaphi found himself in no mans land with Dylan Macallister on the attack, the Mariners- front-man taking the ball to the byline before coolly squaring for Matt Simon, who tapped in to an empty net, to secure the club-s second win of the season, a 2-1 victory continuing their dominance of their western rivals.

The Mariners next home match of the Hyundai A-League 2009/10 season will be against Gold Coast United on Saturday, 19 September. Kick-off is at 7:30pm. Tickets are available online here or by phoning 132 849.

Mariners Memberships for the Hyundai A-League 2009/10 season are now available online by clicking here or by phoning 1300 767 442.

Match Details

Central Coast Mariners 20 Danny VUKOVIC (gk), 4. Pedj BOJIC (23. Adam KWASNIK 83-), 5. Brad PORTER, 7. John HUTCHINSON, 9. Nik MRDJA (11. Dylan MACALLISTER 79-), 14. Michael McGLINCHEY, 15. Andrew CLARK (21. Ahmad ELRICH 70-), 16. Nigel BOOGAARD, 18. Alex WILKINSON (c), 19. Matt Simon, 22. Nicky TRAVIS.

Unused Subs 1. Andrew REDMAYNE (gk).

Yellow Cards McGlinchey 78-
Red Cards None
Goals Wilkinson 42-, Simon 89-

Perth Glory 1. Tando VELAPHI (gk), 4. Andy TODD, 6. Chris COYNE, 7. Jacob BURNS (c), 8. Victor SIKORA (24. Matthew MAYORA 66-), 10. Wayne SRHOJ, 11. Branko JELIC, 12. Scott NEVILLE (17. Todd HOWARTH 54-), 16. Adriano PELLEGRINO, 19. Naum SEKULOVSKI, 21. Mile STERJOVSKI.

Unused Subs 20. Aleks VRTESKI (gk), 25. AMARAL.

Yellow Cards Sekulovski 46-, Jelic 49-
Red Cards None
Goals Sterjovski 82-

Referee Ben WILLIAMS
Crowd 5,139