Michael McGlinchey came off the bench to score a vital winner for Central Coast against Suwon, putting the Mariners in a good position to reach the knockout stages
|By DEJAN KALINIC
Central Coast's AFC Champions League fate rests in their own hands after a Michael McGlinchey goal gave them a crucial 1-0 win over the Suwon Bluewings on Tuesday night.
McGlinchey's goal lifted the Mariners onto seven points in Group H, two clear of third-placed Guizhou Renhe.
Kashiwa Reysol, Central Coast's opponents on matchday six, are on 11 points and have qualified, while Suwon cannot reach the knockout stages.
Graham Arnold made four changes to the starting line-up which clinched the A-League championship with a 2-0 win over Western Sydney on Sunday.
Captain John Hutchinson [suspended], veteran Patrick Zwaanswijk and star attacker McGlinchey were among those absent from the starting XI.
The Mariners were prepared to sit back early and Suwon struggled to put together any threatening attacks.
Suwon created a good chance on 17 minutes, but Park Hyun-Beom fluffed his header at the back post after a deflected cross.
The Bluewings looked the more likely throughout the first half-hour and went close to opening the scoring in the 26th minute.
A Cho Ji-Hun cross found Stevica Ristic in the area and the Macedonian did well to get his volley on target, but Mathew Ryan was on hand to make a comfortable save.
Jong Tae-Se, who scored a hat-trick in the K-League on Saturday, looked lively in the attacking third but Suwon lacked creativity throughout the first half.
Central Coast made a bright start to the second half and almost went ahead just three minutes after the break.
Daniel McBreen, largely isolated for most of the encounter, slid Nick Fitzgerald through, but the winger waited too long before striking his effort into the side-netting from a difficult angle.
The intensity lifted in the second half and Ryan held Cho's low 30-yard shot well after it skidded off the wet surface.
An opener looked to be on the cards and Josh Rose's run down the left almost provided it, but his cross was eventually dealt with by Jung Sung-Ryong.
Dzenan Radoncic had an effort from range as the Bluewings continued to struggle breaking down the Mariners.
Jong had a glorious chance with a quarter of an hour to play, but he blazed just over from the edge of the area.
Just nine minutes after being introduced, McGlinchey scored the winner.
The New Zealand international broke the offside trap to get onto a long ball from Oliver Bozanic down the left before beating Jung in a one-on-one, although the goalkeeper did get a hand on the shot.
Suwon lacked creativity throughout and nothing changed as they searched for an equaliser, giving the Mariners a vital three points.