A second-half brace from Mariners defender Pedj Bojic was enough to sink the Melbourne Heart and extend Central Coast's lead at the top of the A-League ladder.
|By HAMISH NEAL
A rare Pedj Bojic brace has secured the Central Coast Mariners a 2-0 win against the Melbourne Heart on Friday night at Bluetongue Stadium.
The triumph sees Central Coast (26 points) temporarily extend their lead at the top of the table to four points with second-placed Adelaide (22) still to play Wellington on Sunday.
The fun started for Bojic in the 49th minute after a calamitous error from Melbourne Heart goalkeeper Clint Bolton - one of the most consistent custodians in the A-League.
A Bojic strike from 26 metres out on the angle appeared to only require a regulation save but the ball slipped through Bolton's hands, then his legs and over the goal line.
Bolton was seemingly unsighted 20 minutes later after a dipping Bojic free kick passed the Melbourne Heart defensive wall and fired the Mariners to a fourth straight win.
A disjointed Heart had a quartet of players returning after their win against Perth in the form of Aziz Behich, Richard Garcia, Michael Marrone (all Socceroo duty) and Dylan Macallister.
The Mariners were more settled with Matt Ryan and Tomas Rogic having returned from the East Asian Cup Qualifying tournament.
Graham Arnold's men had an early free kick saved by 37-year-old Bolton who was put to work early by Bojic when he struck from 25 metres out but to no avail.
In the 15th minute the Heart had their first chance on goal when Bojic misjudged the bounce of a cross from Melbourne's Richard Garcia.
However, Heart striker Dylan Macallister wasn't able to finish from close range.
The Heart failed to pressure the Mariners much in the first half aside from some efforts from an energetic David Williams.
Central Coast had chances to open their account late in the half but deflections from Patrick Gerhardt, after a cross from Bojic, and a Simon Colosimo effort when Daniel McBreen went close kept the visitors level.
Bernie Ibini and returning Socceroo Tomas Rogic were also Mariners who had opportunities to score in the first half.
After Bojic's first goal the Heart had chances in quick succession in the 57th and 58th minute when first Macallister attempted to lift a shot over Matt Ryan before substitute Nick Kalmar attempted an audacious chip from near the centre circle.
Bojic's second goal followed before Heart substitute Golgol Mebrahtu, a goal scorer last weekend, wasted the visitors' best chance for the night in the 79th minute when he should have done better after a run down the left channel.