Melbourne Victory overcame a resilient Central Coast Mariners with two goals in the final five minutes to win 2-1 at Gosford. Diogo Ferreira and Grant Brebner struck after the Mariners had defended doggedly their 48th minute lead courtesy of an Adrian Leijer own goal. Adam Kwasnik saw red for the hosts five minutes after taking the lead.
Mariners coach Graham Arnold was pleased and proud with the performance of his charges against a side many rate as one of the yardsticks of the competition.
"I'm really proud of how the boys played and dug in after the sending off," said Arnold.
"Everyone says that Melbourne along with Brisbane are the yardsticks in the competition. For me in that first half there was only one team on the field
"In the end it took a rebound to break us down, but that's football. Sometimes the bounce just doesn't go your way."
Arnold was at pains to not blame young 'keeper Mathew Ryan for the match defining goal.
"I told him to keep his head up and that he's brilliant all year for us. He's a young kid and young kids make mistakes. He'll learn from it and become a better player," said Arnold.
Mariners captain Alex Wilkinson felt the side let an opportunity slip but was proud of the efforts of his teammates.
"I thought in the first half we played really well and were in complete control of the match. Obviously the match changed with the sending off, and Victory took their chances. Everyone dug in, and as Arnie said the fatigue got the better of us. I hope the fans come back and support us when we play Wellington," Wilkinson said.