A well-executed set piece goal from Central Coast's Pedj Bojic delivered the Mariners a valuable 1-0 away A-League win over an injury-hit Melbourne Heart on Sunday.
Both sides entered the AAMI Park match with four points from the first three rounds, with Central Coast's win lifting them into the top four and leaving the Heart in the bottom four.
The home side came out of the game with some injury concerns, losing Dylan Macallister (back) late in the first half, captain Fred (hamstring) at halftime and fellow midfield veteran Matt Thompson midway through the second half.
The Heart had much of the possession in an uninspiring first half, but mostly used it to pass the ball around their defence to little effect.
Their brightest moment came in the 14th minute when Macallister chipped a nice lob into the box for the hard-working Richard Garcia to run onto, although Garcia made little of it, spraying his close-range shot harmlessly across goal.
The Mariners, who had scored just two goals in their previous three games, rarely threatened in the first half, most of their attacking moves long high balls which were comfortably dealt with.
But they came close to scoring a few minutes from the break, when a sharp one-touch shot from Mile Sterjovski forced a reflex save from veteran Melbourne keeper Clint Bolton.
The Mariners stepped up the attacking pressure after the interval, with the goal coming after Garcia brought down talented youngster Tomas Rogic to give away a free kick just outside the penalty area.
Bojic tapped the 51st-minute free kick to Sterjovski, who tapped it back, before Bojic curled a powerful right-footer inside the right post.
The Heart then finally found some urgency, with fleet-footed substitute Mate Dugandzic setting up Josip Tadic with a great chance 15 minutes later.
But Tadic, who had plenty of time and only keeper Mathew Ryan to beat, fired his shot straight at the Mariners stopper, wasting what proved his side's best chance.