Youngsters lead Central Coast Mariners to victory
The Mariners won 3-1 at Skilled Park thanks to first-half goals from young guns Bernie Ibini-Isei and Mustafa Amini before Mitchell Duke came on in the second half and marked his debut with his side's third - all of which were maiden goals for each player.
Shane Smeltz restored some pride for the home side with six minutes remaining but it was clearly not enough as Graham Arnold's men notched up their eighth match unbeaten whilst inflicting Gold Coast's second loss in their last seven matches.
Central Coast are now seven points clear of third-placed Adelaide United, setting up a two-legged semi-final with league leaders Brisbane Roar, whilst Gold Coast remain fourth ahead of Saturday's meeting with the Roar.
Venue: Skilled Park, Robina Referee: Strebre Delovski Yellow cards:GCU - Andrew Barisic 61' CCM - nil
GOAL The match started well for the visitors who hit the lead in the 13th minute through young striker Bernie Ibini-Isei who netted his first A-League goal in just his second match. The Nigerian-born teenager received a neat pass from Josh Rose after a forceful run into the left side of the area and managed to half-volley home past Glen Moss to open the scoring.
The Mariners were enjoying the better of the chances during the first half and managed to go two ahead five minutes before the break through Mustafa Amini. GOAL Rose's cross from the left was not properly dealt with by Adama Traore, his clearance falling to Amini who placed it perfectly past Moss from just outside the area to make it 2-0 and opening his A-League account in his 20th match.
Michael Thwaite was close to getting one back for the home side with a flighted shot which fell over the crossbar but he would seen his side fall behind in the 67th when debutant Mitchell Duke, who replaced Ibini, finished well for the Mariners' third. GOAL He was found by Oliver Bozanic in plenty of space and the youngster advanced into the area with a nice first touch before sliding past Moss to mark his A-League debut.
GOAL With six minutes remaining, Shane Smeltz grabbed a consolation goal when Andrew Barisic played a deft touch into the path of the Kiwi international and he dispatched it into the back of the net for his seventh goal in eight matches since his return.
Immediately after the goal, Gold Coast began to surge forward but were unable to again beat Mathew Ryan in Mariners goals as the visitors recorded a resounding win.
GCU Glen Moss (gk), Steve Pantelidis, Dino Djulbic, Kristian Rees, Adama Traore, Josh Brillante (Minniecon 52'), Michael Thwaite, Peter Perchtold (Fitzsimmons 89'), Anderson, Chris Harold (Barisic 37'), Shane Smeltz
Subs - Scott Higgins (gk), Andrew Barisic (37'), Tahj Minniecon (52'), Steve Fitzsimmons (89')
CCM Mathew Ryan (gk), Trent Sainsbury, Patrick Zwaanswijk, Alex Wilkinson, Josh Rose, Michael McGlincher, John Hutchinson, Mustafa Amini (Lewis 77'), Oliver Bozanic, Daniel McBreen (Doig 90+4'), Bernie Ibini-Isei (Duke 58')
Subs - Paul Henderson (gk), Mitchell Duke (58'), Matthew Lewis (77'), Chris Doig (90+4')