Mobile Mariners turn to Asia after moving top of ALM

Central Coast Mariners will board an early morning flight to Kyrgyzstan as the A-League Men leaders and with a top-two finish in the bag after a 2-0 win over Western United.

Max Balard opened the scoring with a well-taken goal in the 51st minute at the Wyndham Regional Football Facility in Tarneit on Saturday.

Christian Theoharous doubled the Mariners' lead with a sensational long-range strike in the 80th minute, just four minutes after entering the fray.

The win lifts Central Coast ahead of Wellington on games won (15 to 14), with both teams sitting on 49 points - eight clear of third-placed Melbourne Victory with two rounds left.

Action from Western United v Central Coast.
Victory has taken Central Coast to the top of the A-League Men and guaranteed a top-two finish.

"It was over to us today after Wellington got the late win yesterday," coach Mark Jackson said.

"There was a little bit of pressure on us, but the boys have come good, particularly in the second half, and produced a professional performance."

It also delivered the club championship, with Central Coast the team with the most cumulative points across their men's and women's sides.

The Mariners and Phoenix can look forward to the first week of finals off before the two-legged semi-finals.

Central Coast have also sealed a berth in the Asian Champions League Elite for next season.

The Mariners fly to Kyrgyzstan on Sunday for the first leg of their AFC Cup inter-zonal final against Abdysh-Ata Kant on Wednesday.

"It's a gruelling, gruelling journey," Jackson said.

"We leave the hotel at 2am tomorrow morning, we fly and then we've got - l think it's a nine-hour layover - before we get on the flight to Kyrgyzstan.

"We're not complaining. We're very privileged to be in this position.

"We're going to embrace it, like we've done all this season, and we're going to go out there ready to perform and hopefully get the result."

The game burst to life five minutes into the second half.

Josh Nisbet pounced on a Sebastian Pasquali turnover and burst forward before cutting the ball back for Balard to score.

Eleventh-placed United were contentiously denied a penalty from a potential Balard handball in the 53rd minute.

"I don't know the rule anymore. Don't know the rule. We haven't been given much," United coach John Aloisi said.

"It came off of our player and hit him in the hand. When his arm was up. So normally they give that as a penalty. They didn't. So we can't complain."

Aloisi voiced his frustration at a perceived lack of consistency from referees.

"If they consistently make them that they're not handballs, then no problem," he said.

"If they consistently make them that they're handballs, then no problem, we'll deal with it.

"But they're not - they're changing their mind every week."

Theoharous sealed the three points when he evaded multiple defenders before rifling a left-footed strike from the edge of the box into the top corner.

United play Adelaide on Tuesday night in Tarneit, while the Mariners host the Reds on Sunday.

License this article

What is AAPNews?

For the first time, Australian Associated Press is delivering news straight to the consumer.

No ads. No spin. News straight-up.

Not only do you get to enjoy high-quality news delivered straight to your desktop or device, you do so in the knowledge you are supporting media diversity in Australia.

AAP Is Australia’s only independent newswire service, free from political and commercial influence, producing fact-based public interest journalism across a range of topics including politics, courts, sport, finance and entertainment.

What is AAPNews?
The Morning Wire

Wake up to AAPNews’ morning news bulletin delivered straight to your inbox or mobile device, bringing you up to speed with all that has happened overnight at home and abroad, as well as setting you up what the day has in store.

AAPNews Morning Wire
AAPNews Breaking News
Breaking News

Be the first to know when major breaking news happens.

Notifications will be sent to your device whenever a big story breaks, ensuring you are never in the dark when the talking points happen.

Focused Content

Enjoy the best of AAP’s specialised Topics in Focus. AAP has reporters dedicated to bringing you hard news and feature content across a range of specialised topics including Environment, Agriculture, Future Economies, Arts and Refugee Issues.

AAPNews Focussed Content
Subscription Plans

Choose the plan that best fits your needs. AAPNews offers two basic subscriptions, all billed monthly.

Once you sign up, you will have seven days to test out the service before being billed.

AAPNews Full Access Plan
Full Access
  • Enjoy all that AAPNews has to offer
  • Access to breaking news notifications and bulletins
  • Includes access to all AAPNews’ specialised topics
Join Now
AAPNews Student Access Plan
Student Access
  • Gain access via a verified student email account
  • Enjoy all the benefits of the ‘Full Access’ plan at a reduced rate
  • Subscription renews each month
Join Now
AAPNews Annual Access Plan
Annual Access
  • All the benefits of the 'Full Access' subscription at a discounted rate
  • Subscription automatically renews after 12 months
Join Now

AAPNews also offers enterprise deals for businesses so you can provide an AAPNews account for your team, organisation or customers. Click here to contact AAP to sign-up your business today.

Download the app
Download AAPNews on the App StoreDownload AAPNews on the Google Play Store