Mariners trounce Phoenix

A stunning brace by left-back Joshua Rose has helped the Central Coast to a 3-0 win against Wellington Phoenix and handed the Mariners their first victory in the New Zealand capital for three years.

A stunning brace by left-back Joshua Rose has helped the Central Coast to a 3-0 win against Wellington Phoenix and handed the Mariners their first victory in the New Zealand capital for three years.

Rose finished off strong runs down the left flank for both his goals – the opener in the 11th minute and the match-sealing strike in 80th minute – before Adam Kwasnik completed the comfortable win with four minutes remaining.

The result kept Graham Arnold’s side in third place and left opposite number Ricki Herbert with plenty to think about after back-to-back defeats at Westpac Stadium – a venue where they had previously gone 24 games unbeaten until being thrashed 4-1 by Brisbane Roar 10 days ago.

It also left Phoenix skipper Andrew Durante little to celebrate on his 100th A-League appearance.

Herbert stuck with the same starting line-up for the third week in a row keen to see his side build on their first away victory of the season last weekend against Perth.

It was a lively opening spell from the Phoenix, who were obviously determined to put the 4-1 home loss to the Roar behind them.

A corner kick from Leo Bertos inside the opening minute just evaded Tim Brown at the near post giving Central Coast keeper Matthew Ryan an early introduction to the game.

The Mariners’ first real opportunity fell to Michael McGlinchey in the 11th minute when they broke down the right and the ball was fired into the box.

But the midfielder blasted high and wide despite having plenty of time and space to steady himself.

The Phoenix almost came undone from a corner kick a few minutes later when the ball eventually ricocheted off big striker Daniel McBreen and Paston punched the ball weakly behind.

The pressure finally told on the Phoenix defence though and the Mariners, who welcomed back Pedj Bojic from a hamstring strain, took a deserved lead in the 17th minute.

Rose made a strong run in from the left, evaded Jade North who appeared to lose his footing, before calmly firing the ball into the back of the net. It was the visitors’ first goal at Westpac Stadium since October 2007 when they won 2-1 – their only other victory at the venue.

Aside from a Paul Ifill effort, which flew over the bar, the Phoenix didn’t really create any chances until the final few minutes of the opening half.

Vince Lia’s piledriver was blocked by Patrick Zwaanswijk after a good cross from Ifill, and then Durante had two headers go wide in quick succession after good balls into the box from Simon Elliott and Ifill.

The opening 10 minutes of the second half saw chances go begging for both sides.

Matt Simon made several strong runs at the Phoenix goal without gaining any reward, while at the other end Wellington won a succession of corners but could not make them count.

The closest they got was a fierce 30 metre shot from Elliott that thundered back off the crossbar.

Then Zwaanswijk thought his header had put Central Coast 2-0 up only for the goal to be ruled out for offside.

Tempers frayed in the 64th minute when Tim Brown was booked for appearing to kick Ryan in the head after Chris Greenacre’s glancing header had come back off the post and Ryan and the Phoenix midfielder tangled going for the rebound.

It was Brown’s fifth yellow card of the season meaning he will miss next week’s away trip to Newcastle Jets.

Pressing hard for an equaliser the Phoenix were always going to be vulnerable and it was no surprise when Rose finished off another strong run into the box with a second goal. Kwasnik’s strike provided the final flourish to an impressive away win.

“We were always confident that we would win,” said a delighted Graham Arnold.

“We’ve improved a lot since round three when we came here and got beaten 2-0. The players have been working extremely hard, as have the staff, and I think we’re growing.

“That was our best performance away from home. The football that we played was very pleasing. Overall I’m very, very happy.”

Herbert, having seen his side lose successive games in Wellington for the first time, was understandably less happy.

“I don’t think it was quite a Brisbane performance but we’ve got nothing from it,” he lamented.

“We had some good spells but we probably didn’t take opportunities and that’s probably my biggest concern at the moment.

“Last year we would put somebody away like that – at least get ourselves on top and score – and we didn’t really look like it tonight.”