Photos: Mariners coach Graham Arnold was disappointed at the manner of the loss; Adrian Leijer scored an own-goal; Victory coach Ernie Merrick will have a great New Year; Mariners Alex Wilkinson and Patricio Perez were downcast [PlessPix]
Central Coast Mariners 1-2 Melbourne Victory
Melbourne Victory scored twice in three minutes in the last five minutes to beat a 10-man Central Coast Mariners side 2-1 away at Bluetongue Stadium in Gosford this evening.
The Mariners had taken the lead in the 48th minute through an own-goal by Adrian Leijer, but goals by Diogo Ferreira in the 85th minute and Grant Brebner in the 87th gave the visitors an important win.
The Mariners had been reduced to 10 men in the 53rd minute when Adam Kwasnik was shown a second yellow card for dissent.
Victory were under pressure in the first half and only two fine saves by goalkeeper Michael Petkovic kept the match goalless.
Three minutes after the break, fullback Joshua Rose attacked down the left and beat substitute Ferreira before knocking a curling ball in towards the near post where Leijer, under pressure from Kwasnik, turned the ball into his own net.
Kevin Muscat was lucky not to concede a penalty when he missed the ball in a lunging tackle and brought down an opponent, while it was his tackle on Kwasnik that led to the latter complaining and being dismissed.
Five minutes from the end, Victory drew level following Ricardinho’s cross from the right. Matt Ryan blocked Evan Berger’s initial shot from close range and the ball rebounded to Brebner, who laid it back into the path of Ferreira and he smashed it into the roof of the net.
In the 87th minute, Tom Pondeljak’s over-hit cross from the right was kept in play near the corner flag by Carlos Hernandez, who played the ball inside to Ferreira. He shot from 20 metres and Ryan fumbled the ball and allowed it to slip between his legs. He just got his hands on the ball as Brebner rushed in and forced it into the net for thw winner.
Ryan had the fingers of both hands on the ball, but one could argue he did not have a firm grip or control of the ball when Brebner kicked it. That’s how referee Ben Williams saw it, and he allowed the goal.
The win lifted Melbourne Victory to fourth place on the A-League ladder, a point adrift of third-placed Mariners.
Central Coast Mariners: Ryan - Sainsbury (Doig 73), Wilkinson, Zwaanswijk, Rose - Bozanic, Hutchinson (Amini 89), Perez (McBreen 63), McGlinchey - Kwasnik, Rose (Sub not used: Henderson)
Sent off: Kwasnik
Goals: Leijer 48 og
Melbourne Victory: Petkovic - Leijer, Muscat, Vargas - Pondeljak, Celeski (Ricardinho 70), Angulo (Berger 77), Kruse - Hernandez, Dugandzic (Ferreira 46) (Sub not used: Mattei)
Goals: Ferriera 85, Brebner 87
Ref: B Williams