Central Coast Mariners have recorded a 1-0 win over North Queensland Fury in Gosford tonight. Adam Kwasnik's 28th minute header proved to be the difference between the sides in a contest which provided plenty of attack but little efficiency in front of goal.
The three points allowed the Mariners to go to third, joining Gold Coast United on 33 points, but with one goal better on goal difference whilst the Fury dropped to 10th after their 11th loss of the season.
Venue: Bluetongue Stadium, Gosford Crowd: 5,979 Referee: Ryan Shepheard Yellow cards:CCM - Rostyn Griffiths 18' NQF - Andre Kilian 81', Ramazan Tavsancioglu 90'
The match started in a blaze of glory with an early chance to both sides. The first came from Mariners forward Adam Kwasnik who got on the end of a neat Patricio Perez through ball inside the opening two minutes but Fury gloveman Justin Pasfield was on hand to make a smart save. A few minutes later, Fury striker Chris Payne turned in the area and although his shot was kept out by Mathew Ryan, the Mariners defence had to scramble it away as the ball did enough to slightly defy the Central Coast keeper.
Fury were well on top in the opening 20 minutes, led by Payne and David Williams, who were providing headaches for the Mariners back four which had kept just one clean sheet in their last six matches but it was the home side who had the next best chance when Matt Simon struck from a tight angle only to see his shot parried away confidently by Pasfield with Kwasnik sweating on any potential mistake.
In the 22nd minute, Pasfield came up with this third save from a Rostyn Griffiths header but the home side were able to get one past him against the run of play.
GOAL The move started in midfield with Perez who played in Michael McGlinchey before the New Zealand international got it wide to Simon. He crossed from deep on the right, enticing Kwasnik, who headed home from close range for his eighth goal in the last 10 matches to continue his recent purple patch.
The 34th minute saw Williams and Payne at it again up the other end but the latter's shot from just inside the area only stung the palms of Ryan who was positioned perfectly. Despite being a goal down after dominating early play, the Fury were prepared to continue attacking and went close again when Gareth Edds was played in just before the break but were unable to bridge the gap prior to the half-time whistle.
There was little action in the opening 15 minutes of the second term as the Mariners seemed happy to soak things up, forcing a completely different tempo to what we saw in the opening 45.
Simon should have put the Mariners two up in the 72nd minute when substitute Mustafa Amini found him with a searching ball but the striker's one-on-one shot with Pasfield cannoned into the legs of the keeper and away to safety from a Fury viewpoint.
The Mariners got an extra skip in their step as the Fury begun to tire but could not grab a second and had to settle for a 1-0 win, enabling them to replace Gold Coast United in third position on the table.
CCM Mathew Ryan (gk), Josh Rose, Patrick Zwaanswijk, Alex Wilkinson, Pedj Bojic, Oliver Bozanic, Michael McGlinchey, Rostyn Griffiths, Patricio Perez (Amini 61'), Matt Simon (Doig 89'), Adam Kwasnik (McBreen 74')
NQFJustin Pasfield (gk), Andre Kilian, Mark Hughes, Ramazan Tavsancioglu, Simon Storey, Panny Nikas (Grossman 83'), Ufuk Talay (Spagnuolo 77'), Gareth Edds, Brad McDonald, Chris Payne (Daal 61'), David Williams