A lone Bernie Ibini goal was enough to seal victory for the Central Coast in their elimination final against Adelaide on Saturday keeping their A-League title defence on track.
The 1-0 win at Central Coast Stadium books their place in the semi-finals where they’ll meet the waiting Western Sydney Wanderers at Parramatta Stadium next Saturday.
Melbourne Victory will face Brisbane in the other semi at Suncorp Stadium on Sunday week.
Ibini’s strike, midway through the second half, proved decisive and continued the Mariners’ strong record at home against the Reds, with Adelaide having not tasted victory in Gosford since January 2009.
The Mariners will have little time to celebrate, however, with the side boarding a flight to Japan on Sunday morning for their crucial Asian Champions League game against Sanfrecce Hiroshima on Wednesday.
Both sides wore black arm bands and observed a minute’s silence before the match in honour of young Socceroo Dylan Tombides who tragically died at the age of 20 following a three-year battle with cancer.
The Reds looked dangerous from the outset but, as has been the case often this season, while they had the lion’s share of possession and appeared to dominate the half, they were not able to turn that into goals.
Osama Malik had the only shot on target for Adelaide while the Mariners left Reds keeper Eugene Galekovic untroubled in an opening stanza featuring no meaningful chances.
It was a more attacking Mariners who emerged from the break with striker Ibini putting Galekovic to work twice in 10 minutes early in the half.
And it was third time lucky for the young-gun forward who put the hosts ahead in the 67th minute with a sensational strike.
Anthony Caceras played the ball into the area, with an off-balance Mitchell Duke doing well to play it back and set up Ibini for goal, sending the 9,045 fans into raptures.
Coach Josep Gombau brought on Bruce Djite for Jeronimo Neumann with half an hour to play, in an effort to inject pace up front.
The forward threatened with a late header and forced a save in the dying minutes but, while the Reds continued to probe until the final whistle, they were unable to find the equaliser.