It’s been coming, creeping, and now it’s finally arrived. Tonight, Paul Okon’s men finally put the doubters to rest.
Not even a red card to skipper Alan Baro could dampen a sensational performance from Central Coast, as they dominated a shell-shocked Sydney FC –running out 1-0 victors in front of an esctatic home crowd.
The Mariners have been impressing neutrals while depressing their own fans this season with a series of electrifying performances, yet disappointing results.
But there was nothing disappointing about the sensational counter-attack that led to Andrew Hoole’s opener against his former club. Jake McGing then doubled the Mariners’ advantage, but Tom Hiariej was the real standout.
Graham Arnold had never lost against the Mariners, but his defending champions were trampled on his old stomping ground, in a result that turns the A-League table on its head.
Jake McGing was the only Mariner - including his coach - that wasn't raving at the end of the match. But he still recognised the importance of the win.
"It's very special," he said. "It's our first three points of the season, we had a game plan and it's great that we executed it today.
Tom Hiariej was equally excited about Central Coast's performance.
"It means so much, you can see after the whistle," he said. "It was really good, I have an awesome feeling now. What can I say? We’re excellent.
"In the previous games we conceded too easily, but we played some good combinations today and we showed that we’re a good team."
Okon went one step further. He believes the Mariners are just getting started.
"Being Remembrance Round, we wanted to show that we had the bigger heart," he said. "We’re one of the best football clubs in the competition."