Glory shoots down Mariners to take top spot


Perth Glory ended its Gosford hoodoo to grab top spot in the A-League as it inflicted more pain on suffering Central Coast Mariners with a 1-0 victory on Sunday evening.

Glory's first regular season win in 14 attempts at a previously unhappy hunting ground saw Kenny Lowe's side leapfrog Adelaide United, Sydney FC and Melbourne Victory to go a point clear at the summit after five rounds.

The result was sealed by Nebojsa Marinkovic's trademark free-kick approaching half-time as Perth picked up its fourth win of the season to go into Tuesday's FFA Cup semi-final against Bentleigh Greens in buoyant mood.

For the Mariners, it was a third successive loss and leaves them marooned in seventh spot with just three points from four games and looking for a change of fortune when it takes on Adelaide United in the second FFA Cup semi-final at Coopers Stadium on Wednesday.

Mariners coach Phil Moss made four changes from the side beaten 2-0 by Sydney FC last weekend with the biggest surprise the inclusion of young left-back Michael Neill for his A-League debut ahead of the experienced Josh Rose.

Isaka Cernak - making his first A-League start for the Mariners - had a chance to make a quick impact but his speculative effort in the 12th minute flashed wide of Danny Vukovic's goal.

At the other end, Glory midfielder Marinkovic drove an effort wide of Liam Reddy's goal from the edge of the area in what an otherwise cautious opening from both sides.

Young striker Mitchell Duke forced a save from Vukovic as the Mariners sought a breakthrough in the 22nd minute, with another effort from outside the box.

Cernak then fired over from an acute angle after Nick Fitzgerald had flashed over a teasing cross from the left.

Mariners old boy Rostyn Griffiths wasted a chance to score against his former club as he badly miscued when free inside the six-yard box from a 33rd minute Marinkovic free-kick.

Six minutes from half-time Vukovic needed to make a double save to first keep out an Anthony Caceres long-ranger and then foil a Duke follow-up as the ball spilled his way.

A moment of rare quality three minutes from half-time broke the deadlock with Marinkovic stepping up to curl an unstoppable free-kick past Liam Reddy after John Hutchinson had fouled influential Socceroos call-up Mitch Nichols.

In-form Glory hitman Andy Keogh could have plunged the home team further adrift two minutes into the second half but Reddy's quick anticipation denied him inside the six yard box when he looked sure to score.

And Reddy was equal to the task again when he stuck out a strong right hand to thwart Keogh for a second time as he raced through in the 66th minute.

Duke, the Mariners' most potent threat in front of a crowd of 6,391, brought a reaction save from Vukovic after firing at goal from a Glen Tifiro cutback.

Substitute Danny De Silva could have added a second in stoppage time for the visitor after being set up by Nichols.

Lowe was full of praise for his side and said in a boon for its fans his team will only get better.

"There's a hell of a lot of improvement. Which is scary really," he said. "After 27 games and when I've got the thing in my hand and (owner) Tony (Sage) gives me a big fat bonus, that's when I go 'happy Larry'.

"It's early days for us. We're a new squad, new coaches. But one thing we've got at the club is everyone's hungry. Everyone's in it for each other. So hopefully we can maximise that and have a decent year."

The Mariners showed signs of promise but Marinkovic's free kick ensured they conceded three straight goals from set pieces after their 2-0 loss to Sydney last week.

Coach Phil Moss however remained confident his side could turn things around.

"I'm disappointed to give the set piece away but you can't take anything away from that strike," he said.

"I don't think you can set up anything differently to save a free-kick like that. It was a great strike.

"But we'll be fine. We've just got to keep playing the football we want to play. If today's first half is anything to go by, the results will start to come."

Source: SBS