A late Dimitri Petratos goal has steered Brisbane to a convincing 1-0 win over Central Coast to reclaim second spot on the A-League table.
Just as it seemed as if Sunday’s unexciting fixture would play out goalless at Central Coast Stadium, substitute Petratos picked up a well-placed pass from Thomas Broich and cut inside to launch home a cracking long-range shot.
It was his second goal of the season and sealed a sore loss for the home side, who showed second-half intent and very nearly equalised at the death via a Harry Ascroft flick at goal and a deflected Josh Rose shot that was ruled offside.
It leaves Tony Walmsley’s side 10 matches now without a win, but there was promise from their play in stifling conditions.
With the mercury hovering at an oppressive 32 degrees, the Roar controlled possession and the tempo, but the heat sapped both sides of midfield flare.
Of the visitors’ 11 first-half shots, the only one that really tested Mariners gloveman Paul Izzo came from Jamie Maclaren, who worryingly hobbled off after the break following a collision with Ascroft.
The pacy young striker blazed down the left wing and evaded a yellow-shirted defender with a lovely right-footed first touch, before unleashing with his left at an acute angle only for it to hit the near upright as Izzo’s arms flailed.
But Central Coast absorbed Brisbane’s pressure well as Rose, playing his 150th A-League match, led a defensive structure that for the first time this season showed real signs of discipline.
In attack they were initially less convincing but grew into the game thanks partly to the imposing physical outlet of Mitch Austin down the left flank.
Then, on the cusp of halftime, referee Chris Beath came under fire from the home side twice in quick succession, when both Austin and O’Donovan unsuccessfully appealed for penalties.
One of the home side’s best chances came with 25 minutes to go when Austin took off on a lightning 30-metre run, only to pelt his effort over the crossbar with his weaker left foot.
With 13 minutes to go the Gosford crowd of 5,124 had something to cheer about when Fabio Ferreira made his return from a five-match injury absence.
But the star winger could not provide the difference they were looking for.