Sydney FC have finished 2015 on a high with a comfortable 4-1 A-League defeat of Central Coast in a niggly Boxing Day affair.
But it may have come at a price, with skipper Alex Brosque re-injuring his hamstring.
The Sky Blues put a 10-man Mariners to the sword at Allianz Stadium on Saturday night thanks to two goals from Brosque, another to Mickael Tavares and Jake McGing’s late own goal.
Harry Ascroft netted for the visitors late in the first half but it didn’t stop Sydney consigning the last-placed Gosford outfit to an 11th winless match.
The result is a major blow for Tony Walmsley’s men, who in notching their sixth consecutive loss have set a new club record.
The Mariners had the share of possession but traffic mostly went the other way.
Brosque ensured the 12,648-strong crowd didn’t wait long to get loud, firing home his fourth goal of the season in the 12th minute after some neat short passing between fellow frontmen Milos Ninkovic and Andrew Hoole.
In the 24th minute the captain rolled in a penalty-kick after McGing took down Ninkovic.
From there it was chaos.
Brosque, clutching his hamstring, signalled to coach Graham Arnold he was done for the night and was promptly replaced by Matt Simon, the man who brought down his former side in Gosford in October.
Then Mariners goalkeeper Paul Izzo, already booked once for arguing with referee Ben Williams over the McGing penalty, was handed a second yellow for a challenge on George Blackwood.
Liam Rose exited to make way for 18-year-old back-up gloveman Tom Heward-Belle to take his place just in time to face Tavares, who calmly converted his first goal for the club.
Walmsley was furious on the sidelines, perhaps more to do with the way Simon went unpunished despite appearing to elbow Harry Ascroft in the head.
With halftime approaching and the situation looking awry for the visitors, Matthew Sim delivered a superb ball from the wing to Vedran Janjetovic’s far post, where Ascroft was left appallingly unmarked to head home and shorten the deficit.
For the Mariners, skipper Nick Montgomery worked tirelessly for corners and Fabio Ferreira brought pace off the bench as Sydney grew too comfortable in their lead and took their foot off the pedal.
It was epitomised when the brilliant Brandon O’Neill, who shaved the crossbar in the 54th minute, sent a lovely long ball into the box only for Hoole to casually flick wide.
Heward-Belle protected his goal with confidence that belied his years but he couldn’t stop McGing’s late own goal, a deflection from Rhyan Grant’s low cross that put the final nail in the Mariners’ coffin.