Central Coast recruit Milan Duric has made an impressive start to his A-League career as the Alen Stajcic era at the Mariners gathers momentum.
Central Coast have came away with just a point but plenty of hope and a new star of the A-League, in Serbian Milan Duric, from their opening two games of the season.
And coach Alen Stajcic is confident his side is close to becoming a "very dangerous prospect for the finals" after back-to-back wooden spoon campaigns.
Central Coast drew 1-1 with Newcastle on Saturday night in Gosford courtesy of a retaken penalty from Jets attacker Dimi Petratos in the 56th minute.
Post-game debate centred on the use of video assistant referee to give Newcastle a second chance to equalise after Mariners goalkeeper Mark Birighitti came off his line to save the initial penalty from Petratos.
But the revival of Central Coast, in their first full season under Stajcic, was also in focus.
The Mariners repelled numerous Jets attacks and looked dangerous with the ball, especially on the counter.
And Duric was the standout.
As he did in the round one loss to Western Sydney, the 32-year-old put the Mariners in front -this time with a stunning strike in the fourth minute.
And was centimetres away from giving the hosts the winner at the death when his shot crashed into the post.
In between, the attacking midfielder was a regular threat for Central Coast with his pace and skill.
In the first minute of the second half, he was close with a thundering free kick that Glen Moss kept at bay.
Stajcic was thrilled with how quickly Duric had made an impact.
"He's improving week to week, I just can't believe how quickly he's improved and adjusted and adapted to our league," the former Matildas coach said.
"I'm really pleased for him. His work rate, his quality, his execution, his shooting - he's got a real weapon there.
"Just his cleverness on the ball and ability to read the game.
"There's not many imports who have come into the A-League and been able to adapt to the speed of our game so quickly, so a lot of credit needs to go to him for that."
Stajcic, though, was pleased with performances across the park and said that when his players execute key moments better "we're certainly going to be a team who can compete with anyone and beat anyone on any given day".
"When that comes and that clicks I think we're going to be a very dangerous prospect for the finals," he said.
The Mariners have the bye before tough away games to Perth and Melbourne City.