Newcastle goalkeeper Mark Birighitti had a horror night as Central Coast kept their place in the A-League’s top six with a 3-1 win over Newcastle in a fiery F3 derby in Gosford on Saturday night.
The opener and clincher for the hosts came from embarrassing mistakes from Birighitti, who made headlines for clashing with teammate Taylor Regan at training on Monday.
After a 15-minute delay because of storms in Sydney pushing back the A-League TV schedule, Birighitti and the Jets looked as though they still weren’t ready in a horror opening six minutes.
A first-minute howler from Birighitti handed the Mariners the lead after just 48 seconds.
Birighitti, who has attracted interest from German giants Bayer Leverkusen, slipped over trying to stop an innocuous free kick taken near halfway from Eddy Bosnar which had been allowed through to the keeper.
The goalie then tried to stop the ball with his legs while falling but it deflected into the goals.
The Mariners made it 2-0 in the sixth minute when Bernie Ibini finished clever work by Mile Sterjovski off a corner from Kim Seung-yong.
Sterjovski brought the ball down at the far post before beating his opposite number and crossing to Ibini, who struck it home from close range.
The visitors recovered and dominated possession before Joel Griffiths made it count in the 23rd minute with the first goal since his return to the Jets.
The 2007-08 A-League golden boot made no mistake from in front after Zenon Caravella put Josh Brillante away down the right and his low cross found Griffiths.
Newcastle controlled the midfield battle for the rest of the half and early in the second without finding the equaliser.
But it was Central Coast who finished the stronger, threatening through Matt Simon before another second-half substitute Glen Trifiro pounced on a Birighitti mistake in the 88th minute.
The keeper failed to grab a shot from Simon cleanly and Trifiro was on the spot to knock it home.
Tempers flared in the final minutes as Jets striker Adam Taggart clashed with Bosnar and Josh Mitchell was given a yellow card.
The result leaves Newcastle in seventh place on 29 points and the Mariners in the top six on 33 with four rounds remaining.