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Late goal gives Mariners second

A-League 2013-14 Round 25: Central Coast Mariners v Western Sydney Wanderers-slide0
Photo by Tony Feder/Getty Images

The Central Coast Mariners find themselves in second place on the A-League ladder, following a thrilling 2-1 win over Western Sydney Wanderers at Central Coast Stadium on Saturday night.

Bernie Ibini and John Hutchinson celebrate Ibini's winning goal
Photo by Tony Feder/Getty Images

The match was a thrilling, end-to-end affair between two sides vying for that crucial second place spot, and with it, Asian Champions League qualification.

Much like the 2013 Grand Final it was Mile Sterjovski, in his last regular season home game, who got things started with his shot dipping just over the bar in the ninth minute.

After a slight lull as the sides fought in midfield, Western Sydney had the next chance in the 20th minute as Aaron Mooy sent his shot wide of goal.

Mooy was at it again moments later as he ran through the Mariners defense after stealing possession, but saw his effort palmed on to the crossbar by Liam Reddy, allowing the Mariners to clear.

For that good passage of play from Western Sydney it was the Mariners who opened the scoring in the 32nd minute after Josh Rose made a phenomenal run through Western Sydney, as the strikers drew defenders, allowing him space to shoot, low and hard across the face.

But five minutes before the break Western Sydney were level as Western Sydney kept the ball in play allowing Tomi Juric to cut the ball back for Nikolai Topor-Stanley who was left with a fairly easy finish to make it level at the break.

Both sides went for it early in the second half as Sterjocski and Mooy both had chances in the early stages, but the Mariners could have had a better chance as Nick Fitzgerald went down in the box after contact outside the area, only for the referee to call play-on.

Bernie Ibini came on in the 56th minute and could well have found the goal that put the Mariners back in front almost instantly as Anthony Caceres played him through, only for Ibini to send his shot over the bar.

Mooy was looking dangerous for Western Sydney and he played Brendon Santalab through in the 67th minute but, perhaps due to the stress of his pending charge of racist abuse, he butchered the chance.

In the final ten minutes the Mariners firmly took control of the match as Western Sydney looked completely exhausted and struggled to keep up with the Mariners.

Ibini, Matt Simon and Nick Montgomery all threatened in the final stages but the goal didn’t come until the 90th minute when Ibini was played through by Storm Roux and simply passed the ball in to the back of the net to seal a vital win for the Mariners, that sees them in to second place and should the Jets lose would seal their place in the A-League finals.

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