Oliver Bozanic believes the Central Coast Mariners showed patience is a virtue as they dismantled ten-man Wellington Phoenix to extend their lead at the top of the A-League.
Alen Stajcic's side have been the surprise package of the competition this season, winning four of their six games to go four points clear at the top of the ladder, with many of their wins fuelled with counter-attacking football.
But when Phoenix striker David Ball was shown a red card for a reckless lunge on Matt Simon in the 27th minute, the Mariners had to seize control of the game and build pressure on the New Zealand outfit at their temporary home in in Wollongong.
Bozanic dominated the centre of the WIN Stadium field, leading the match in touches with 119 and completing 94.2% of his game-high 104 passes, as the 32-year-old controlled the tempo and flow of possession.
Goals from Matt Simon five minutes before half-time, and Bozanic five minutes after the break – his first A-League in goal in five years – did the damage as the ladder-leaders made if three straight wins in the space of 11 days.
"Sometimes it's not easy when they go a man down," Bozanic said. "They sit in, they wait for their opportunities, so you have to be careful with that as well.
"I think the boys did really well. The maturity of some of these young boys coming through is outstanding. They are going really well this season."
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Simon opened the door for the Mariners' triumph in the 40th minute with a composed finish following a picture-perfect through ball from Costa Rica international Marcos Ureña .
And the Central Coast favourite, Simon, heaped praise on the playmaker, who has played in two World Cups, after making a quick impact while getting up to speed in Gosford.
"You can see Marco's quality out on the pitch and that pass was just another showing from him of how good he is," said Simon.
"And he's only going to get better. I think he's still got a little bit to go to get 100% fit but I think he's shown his qualities so far.
"At the end of the day, I think it's a great performance by the team. It's a huge three points for us."
Next fixtures – Matchweek 9
Adelaide United v Central Coast Mariners
Friday, 19 February 2021
Venue: Coopers Stadium
Kick-off: 7.05pm AEDT
Wellington Phoenix v Western Sydney Wanderers
Sunday, 21 February 2021
Venue: WIN Stadium, Wollongong
Kick-off: 6.10pm AEDT