Veteran striker Daniel McBreen rediscovered his goalscoring touch as the Central Coast Mariners snapped Sydney FC’s club record winning streak with a 1-0 A-League win at Bluetongue Stadium in Gosford on Saturday night.
McBreen’s clever close-range backheel from a Josh Rose cross in the 26th minute settled the issue.
It was the first goal of the season for the 36-year-old forward, who won the Golden Boot last season for being the A-League’s leading goal-scorer.
The victory moved the Mariners at least temporarily to fourth, one spot and two points behind Sydney, who had their four-match winning streak ended.
It was McBreen’s fourth appearance of the season and just his second start in Mariners colours since finishing a stint with Chinese club Shanghai SIPG.
Sydney looked sharp early, but the Mariners midfield took control as the first half progressed, with John Hutchinson, Michael McGlinchey and Marcos Flores becoming more prominent.
The visitors had much more of the play in the second half, pushing the Mariners back deep into their own half.
Despite dominating possession against a Mariners side that seemed happy to drop deep, the Sky Blues created few chances after the break and it was Central Coast who missed at least three good opportunities in the final stages.
Former Mariner Pedj Bojic gave Sydney some thrust down the right-hand side, with the visitors creating a couple of decent early chances.
Sydney’s Ali Abbas hit the post from close range in the third minute and midfielder Nick Carle had a high shot tipped over the bar by ex-Sydney goalkeeper Liam Reddy.
McBreen had a fourth-minute header saved comfortably by Vedran Janjetovic and Mitchell Duke had a goal rubbed out for offside.
After the goal, Bojic had a shot saved by Reddy, but the Mariners finished the half stronger, with Flores curling a shot wide and an unmarked McBreen missing the target with a close-range header which bounced over the bar.
In the second half, Abbas headed straight at Reddy following a good cross by Joel Chianese and Nick Carle shot wide, but Sydney lacked a cutting edge without injured superstar Alessandro Del Piero.
Matt Simon missed a glorious chance to give the Mariners a two-goal buffer when he was put right through in the 79th minute, but had his attempt foiled by the legs of Janjetovic.
Fellow substitute Mile Sterjovski hit the post with a curling shot and McGlinchey had a strong shot tipped away by Janjetovic. - AAP