Matt Simon double finally gives Central Coast something to cheer in victory over Western Sydney

Football

Back-to-back wooden spooners Central Coast gave their fans something to cheer about with a 3-1 win over Western Sydney in their final home game of the season on Saturday night.

A double from skipper Matt Simon and header from defender Kye Rowles gave the Mariners a 3-0 lead after 56 minutes in round 26 at Central Coast Stadium, Gosford.

The eighth-placed Wanderers were back in the contest when Mark Bridge, in his 250th A-League game, scored from the penalty spot in the 67th minute and Rowles was shown a straight red card four minutes later for a dangerous, lunging challenge on Alexander Baumjohann.

Mariners keeper Adam Pearce made a diving save to deny Bruce Kamau in the 88th minute and Abraham Majok blasted a great chance for Wanderers over the crossbar in the 95th as the home side held on for their third win of the season.

Neither side could change their position on the ladder with two rounds remaining but Wanderers were favoured to stretch their winning streak at Gosford to six.

However, it was the last-placed Mariners who took a deserved 1-0 half-time lead.

Western Sydney, coming off a 1-1 draw with Sydney, offered little in attack and eventually paid the price for a spate of rash challenges when Simon smashed his free kick through the wall from the top of the box in the 34th minute.

Simon converted a penalty in the 52nd minute after teenage keeper Jack Greenwood struck Jordan Murray in the face when trying to punch clear a high ball.

Greenwood was full stretch to deny Aiden O’Neill in the 56th minute but Rowles scored his first A-League goal with a header off the ensuing corner kick from Jack Clisby.

Bridge came off the bench to smash home his penalty after Adam Melling pushed Rashid Mahazi over at a free kick.

Interim Mariners coach Alen Stajcic, who is tipped to gain a long-term contract at the club, was pleased with the performance.

“We’ve been talking about laying a good foundation and a bit of stability and hope for next year and I hope that the fans really saw that,” Stajcic said.

“The energy in the team, the intent in the team and the positivity in the team, and that’s what I’m most pleased about.

“This really sets us off to have a really good off-season and really prepare well for next year.”

Wanderers coach Markus Babbel said the performance from his team was not good enough and he was at a loss to explain the drop from last week’s draw with Sydney.

“Central Coast deserved their win because they put more energy in, they were fighting, they were running, and we couldn’t handle this,” Babbel said. “Last week it was a top performance, today we were not respecting the game, the opposition, and we were not doing enough.”

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