Two goals from Daniel McBreen have seen Central Coast defeat Western Sydney Wanderers 2-0 at Parramatta Stadium on Sunday
|By JOHN GRECO
Central Coast have opened up a four-point lead at the top of the A-League ladder after edging out a 10-man Western Sydney side 2-0 at Parramatta Stadium on Sunday.
In an absorbing contest it was two goals to veteran striker Daniel McBreen that proved the difference, with the Mariners surviving a spirited effort from the home side to come away with the win in front of more than 16,000 fans.
The home side's cause wasn't helped when midfielder Jason Trifiro was sent off 10 minutes into the second half for a silly tackle on Nick Montgomery.
After already receiving a caution in the first half, Trifiro was late and high when fighting for possession and referee Chris Beath had no choice but to show a second yellow card.
Despite their numerical disadvantage the Wanderers continued to push hard for an equaliser, with substitute Labinot Haliti going close on a couple of occasions in the last 15 minutes.
But the Mariners held on before adding a second goal in the last minute of stoppage time to register their 10th win of the season and open up a handy buffer over Adelaide in second spot.
A hamstring strain for Mateo Poljak saw Trifiro get a start in midfield for the Wanderers and he went close to opening the scoring on seven minutes.
After receiving the ball on the edge of the box, Trifiro skipped past one defender and advanced into the box but shot straight at Mat Ryan.
The Mariners had a great chance of their own five minutes later but defender Zac Anderson's header looped over the bar from a wicked Pedj Bojic corner.
There was a moment of controversy midway through the half when Wanderers striker Joey Gibbs appeared to be through on goal only to be brought down by Trent Sainsbury.
While the boisterous home fans called for a red card, Beath gave the defender the benefit of the doubt, with Anderson appearing to get back around to cover just in time.
With the two best defensive teams in the league up against each other, it was no surprise that clear goal-scoring chances were hard to come by but the visitors made the most of one four minutes before the break.
Adam Kwasnik's clever flick sent McBreen through into the box and the league's leading scorer finished clinically past Ante Covic and into the bottom corner of the net.
It was McBreen's 11th goal of the campaign and took him back to the top of the goal-scoring list.
The Mariners were doing a great job in keeping Shinji Ono quiet but the Japanese star should have brought the sides level less than six minutes into the second half.
Jerome Polenz's cross was diverted into Ono's path just eight yards out and he smashed the loose ball towards goal but Bojic somehow got a foot to it to keep it out.
Despite having Trifiro sent off soon after, the home side still carved out some good chances with a Mark Bridge effort going straight at Ryan, while Haliti saw a volley fly just over the crossbar late on.
The home side continued to push hard for an equaliser and had a penalty appeal turned down late on when Bridge went down in the box.
McBreen then made the points safe right at the death when he curled in his second.