Their long-suffering supporters are on board too, filling Central Coast Stadium to its allowed 25 per cent of capacity while booing former favourite Ziggy Gordon – who walked out on the club barely a month after signing a contract extension – every time he touched the ball.
The Wanderers were backing up just three days after their 1-1 derby draw with Sydney FC and looked a tad lethargic. But they grew into the match in the second half and will be delighted to have snatched the win, which lifts them to the top of the ladder.
They now have two wins and a draw from Carl Robinson’s first four games in charge.
Teenager Mark Natta was handed a debut start by Robinson as a replacement for Wanderers skipper Dylan McGowan, who strained his ankle in the derby but played through it and will now miss several weeks.
Natta, 18, acquitted himself well in the face of a physical onslaught from the Mariners, which was unsurprisingly spearheaded by Matt Simon across an utterly absorbing first half.
Simon was subbed off after an hour but with a less tolerant referee than Kurt Arms in charge, the 34-year-old Mariners legend’s night would have ended much sooner.
Just after the 30-minute mark, Simon gave a serve to ex-teammate Gordon, pointing and shouting in the Scotsman’s face as he lay prone on the turf after the pair competed for an aerial contest. There were suspicions Simon may have stuck a boot into Gordon’s stomach but the VAR saw no reason to intervene.
Three minutes later, Simon was yellow-carded after throwing his arm back at Keanu Baccus as he attempted to shield the ball, catching the Wanderers midfielder in the face.
Baccus played for the send-off, and Simon was fortunate Ams wasn’t interested – and even luckier he got away with an earlier lunge on Baccus without a booking.
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