A week after a disastrous loss at home, Wellington Phoenix battered Central Coast Mariners in the second half to win 4-1 at Bluetongue Stadium in Gosford. The four goals in thirty-five minutes were similar to Wellington's barrage against Melbourne Victory last month, though Friday night's win is arguably more impressive given it was on the road.
Bernie Ibini opened scoring, assisted by Kim Seung-Yong, who was starting his first game with the Mariners. But despite an active first half from both sides, neither side could add another goal to the tally before intermission. Afterward, everything went the way of the Phoenix. First, Kenny Cunningham scored just two minutes after the break, leveling the score and setting up what looked like it could be a competitive second half.
In the 54th minute, Mile Sterjovski stepped to the penalty spot for Central Coast with a chance to retake the lead and bend momentum back toward the home side. Instead, Glen Moss saved Sterjovski's spot kick and sent the Phoenix on the path to an important win. Wellington scored in consecutive minutes with Carlos Hernandez scoring from outside the box in the 64th minute and Stein Huysegems finishing off a Cunningham header in the 65th.
Having secured a measure of breathing room, Ernie Merrick removed both Hernandez and Cunningham but Wellington was not quite done. Jeremy Brockie scored another substitute goal when Huysegems played him through in the 82nd minute, truly finishing off the Mariners and propelling the Phoenix back into sixth place.
Wellington will try to follow up the big win against Adelaide United on Thursday February 27 at the Coopers Stadium. Regardless of how the Reds fare this weekend against Melbourne Victory, the game looms as extremely important in the tight race to fill out positions two through six. The Mariners, meanwhile, travel to Korea to face FC Seoul at the Sangam Stadium in the Champions League group stage opener for both teams. Seoul were runners-up in last year's competition, falling only to Guangzhou Evergrande in the final. Central Coast return to A-League action on Saturday March 1 at home against Sydney FC.
CCM Ibini (Kim) 20'
WEL Cunningham 47'
WEL Hernandez (Muscat) 64'
WEL Huysegems (Cunningham) 65'
WEL Brockie (Huysegems) 82'
Central Coast Mariners: Reddy; Sim, Bosnar, Anderson, Roux; Hutchinson, Montgomery (Trifiro 86'); Ibini (Slater 86'), Sterjovski, Kim (Caceras 71'); Duke
Unused substitutes: Pasfield, Seip
Wellington Phoenix: Moss; Caira, Durante, Sigmund, Boxall; Boyd (Krishna 88'), Lia; Cunningham (Ridenton 78'), Muscat; Hernandez (Brockie 78'), Huysegems
Unused substitutes: Italiano, Brindell-South