Simon farewells Mariners with brace
A brilliant brace from departing striker Matt Simon has helped the Central Coast defeat Melbourne Victory 2-0 in an energetic A-League fixture at Bluetongue Stadium on Wednesday.
The win sees the Mariners take their unbeaten streak to 11 matches and gives them a six-point buffer at the top of the table.
With a boisterous crowd of 12,284 at their backs the home side got off to the best possible start with a goal after just 19 seconds of play.
Troy Hearfield took full advantage of a defensive slip by Petar Franjic to tee up Simon, in his last game before joining Korean club Chunnam Dragons, for his 35th goal for the club.
It was a night of milestones all round with Central Coast midfielder John Hutchinson playing in his 300th Australian club game, and striker Troy Hearfield making his 100th A-League appearance.
In his starting debut for the home side, Hearfield was intent on demonstrating his credentials for the soon to be vacant striking spot - finishing without a goal, but forcing two great saves from Ante Covic.
The visitors were fortunate not to concede a penalty five minutes into the second half, when a cross from Simon appeared to connect with the outstretched arm of Roridgo Vargas.
The star-studded Melbourne attack continued to press forward in the second half, but were constantly thwarted by teenage defender Trent Sainsbury and keeper Mat Ryan.
In an incredibly fast-tempo game, it was the substitutes who had golden chances for both sides late in the second term, with the Mariners' Bernie Ibini hitting the post and Victory's Danny Allsopp denied by Ryan.
Fittingly, Simon sealed the points with a stunning strike six minutes from time.
He departed the arena to a standing ovation with the knowledge that his side would stay at the top of the ladder.