Mariners top of A-League after topping Reds

JAMES MACSMITH
Last updated 23:19 01/12/2012

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Central Coast Mariners are the new A-League front-runners after beating Adelaide 2-1 in Saturday night's top-of-the-table clash in Gosford.

Nick Montgomery scored the winner 14 minutes from fulltime as the Mariners finished off the come-from-behind win to make it a perfect four from four at home this season.

The win leapfrogs the Mariners into first place on the ladder with 20 points ahead of the Reds with 19.

Mariners coach Graham Arnold paid credit to the spirit of his side.

"You go down 1-0 against the run of play in tough conditions, against an in-form side and come away with the win, that just shows the character of the side," he said.

"We have to be honest though, we were very sloppy in the final third ... we should have won by more."

The Mariners had the better of the early running and made debutant Reds goalkeeper Paul Izzo work for his first A-League pay cheque.

Izzo, rated by observers amongst the best young goalkeepers Australia has produced, was forced to save three Mariners shots in the first 15 minutes.

He repelled a Michael McGlinchey strike in the fourth minute and then efforts from Daniel McBreen in the 12th and 15th minutes.

Both sides contributed to an entertaining contest in the sweltering conditions despite missing their most influential playmakers, with Tomas Rogic on Socceroos duty and Dario Vidosic injured.

Despite the home side's early flurry of shots on goal, it was the Reds who struck first through Bruce Djite - with the home side wasting a number of opportunities with two shots flying into the scoreboard at the southern end of the ground.

The Mariners finally had something to show for their domination in the shadows of halftime when Josh Rose blasted a left-foot shot past Izzo in the 45th minute for his sixth A-League goal.

The stifling heat slowed the pace after the break, the Mariners finally taking the lead when Mitchell Duke crossed to Montgomery who made no mistake.

Adelaide coach John Kosmina said he was disappointed his side didn't come away with the win.

"We probably let three points get away, we had a good opportunity to take control of the game," Kosmina said.

"We will probably look back and say this is one we let get away."

Central Coast Mariners 2 (Joshua Rose 45m, Nick Montgomery 76m) Adelaide United 1 (Bruce Djite 17m) at Bluetongue Stadium. Crowd: 6,885. Referee: Alan Milliner

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- AAP

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