Central Coast have fought back from one goal down to defeat Adelaide 2-1 in their top-of-the-table clash and propel themselves to the summit of the A-League ladder
|By HAMISH NEAL
Nick Montgomery scored the winner as the Central Coast Mariners came from behind to defeat Adelaide United 2-1 on Saturday in Gosford and claim top spot on the A-League ladder.
Former Sheffield United midfielder Montgomery's 76th-minute winner gave Graham Arnold's men their sixth win of the season after earlier goals to Adelaide's Bruce Djite and the Mariners' Joshua Rose just before half-time.
Achieved without Australian internationals Mathew Ryan and Tomas Rogic, the result saw Central Coast leapfrog Adelaide into top spot by a solitary point.
Despite the warm conditions - the match kicked off in 33-degree heat - both sides provided an entertaining encounter befitting their status on the ladder.
It was the home side who started with ferocity with chances to Michael McGlinchey, Oliver Bozanic, Bernie Ibini and Daniel McBreen all in the first 15 minutes.
The Mariners forced three saves amongst those chances, with Reds debutant goalkeeper Paul Izzo looking nervous at times but still keeping out the early onslaught.
Adelaide struck first as Djite, returning to the starting line-up, finished off a good phase of play which saw Zenon Caravella supply the pass for him to rifle home in the 17th minute.
The 25-year-old striker slammed home the opener with his left foot after a neat turn outside the box.
Both sides had chances after the first water break before Rose levelled in the 45th minute.
Rose nailed a strike just inside the penalty box after a McBreen cross found the Mariners left back.
Izzo should have done better with the save having gotten a touch to the shot but the one-time Australian Under-17 shot-stopper failed to keep the ball out.
Ibini wasted a golden opportunity for the Mariners to claim the lead early in the second half when the 20-year-old couldn't finish a chance after Izzo spilt another cross.
Eight minutes after that howler, Ibini was replaced by fellow youngster Mitchell Duke who went on to set up the winning goal.
The Mariners racked up three cautions in the space of nine minutes during the second half and skipper John Hutchinson could have considered himself lucky to stay on the field with a foul later in the half seeing him close to going into the book for a second time.
Adelaide were not without their chances late in the second half as substitute Sergio van Dijk went close in the 75th minute, one minute before the Mariners winner.
Montgomery drove home the decisive blow after McBreen released Duke, who took on the Adelaide defence before Montgomery's strike gave the Mariners the win.