Matthew Osman, Adam Kwasnik and Andre Gumprecht provided the goals for the Mariners, sending them to the top of the Group B Ladder.

Osman’s opener on 36 minutes, arguably the pick of the bunch, set the tone for one of the Central Coast’s most comprehensive performances.

The three-goal winning margin is the second largest in Mariners history and builds on the Central Coast’s Pre-Season Cup record of just one regulation time defeat from 14 starts.

The result will also give the Mariners a huge confidence boost ahead of the opening match of the new Hyundai A-League season at Sydney Football Stadium in one month’s time.

Having secured top spot in Group B by four points, the Mariners now face Group A runners up Perth Glory at Bluetongue Central Coast Stadium next Saturday, August 4, to secure their third consecutive Pre-Season Cup final appearance.

"From the start of the game we played good football," said Mariners Football Manager Lawrie McKinna.

"Overall, as a ninety minute performance, it was good with some good passages of play."

The unavailability of six influential players - David Carney, Steve Corica, Iain Fyfe, Mark Milligan, Jacob Timpano and Ruben Zadkovich - forced Sydney FC coach Branko Culina's hand when he was filling out the team sheet, with Terry McFlynn lining up at centre half and trialist Daniel Severino in central midfield as the club used a 4-4-2 formation at Canberra Stadium.

Sydney FC had the better of the opening exchanges and should have taken the lead in the 19th minute. Alex Brosque found himself in acres of space on the left wing and his cross found the feet of Brendon Santalab but the striker, playing despite little training leading up to the match, shot straight at Central Coast Mariners goalkeeper Matthew Trott.

Nigel Boogaard and former Sydney FC striker Sasho Petrovski had chances for Central Coast Mariners before Osman’s pile driver ten minutes before the break.

The goal was the highlight of an absorbing first half between the A-League’s two nearest rivals.

Sydney FC custodian Clint Bolton was helpless to prevent Osman’s stunning strike from all of twenty metres after some clever lead up play from midfield lynchpin Gumprecht.

Gumprecht was key to all of the Mariners’ attacking movements throughout the match, and along with wide midfielders Kwasnik and John Hutchinson, dominated the Sydney backline from the opening whistle.

Strike pair Nik Mrdja and Sasho Petrovski looked as threatening as they have in Mariners colours – their understanding upfront a telling factor of the Mariners’ dominance.

At the opposite end, goalkeeper Matthew Trott played his part in maintaining the Mariners’ clean sheet.

In his second consecutive start of the Pre-Season Cup, Trott’s point blank stop from Sydney FC debutant Brendon Santalab was the most crucial of the opening minutes.

But strong central defensive pairing Nigel Boogaard and Alex Wilkinson rarely gave Sydney FC a chance to threaten the Mariners goal.

Kwasnik doubled the Mariners’ advantage and became the Central Coast’s most prolific Pre-Season Cup marksman of all time just prior to the break, providing a deft final touch to a swift attacking movement by standout Gumprecht.

Gumprecht himself got on the score sheet early in the second half with a strike to rival Osman’s first half effort, with the only import in the Mariners squad the quickest to react to a clearance from a Mariners corner – producing a breathtaking right-foot volley that rocketed past stranded Sydney ‘keeper Bolton.

"It’s only the Pre-Season Cup, but it’s important to win games," said McKinna.

"It’d be nice to get over Perth and get another home final – if you’re in it, you might as well try to win it."

Sydney boss Culina admitted: "We're a long off where we want to be and where we were in the Asian Champions League."

The Mariners now meet Perth Glory At Bluetongue Stadium next Saturday for a chance at a grand final place.

The same evening, Sydney will take on Newcastle Jets at Parramatta Stadium in a battle to avoid the wooden spoon.

Sydney FC 0
Central Coast Mariners 3 (Matthew Osman 36', Adam Kwasnik 44', Andre Gumprecht 51')
Date: Sunday, 29 July, 2007
Venue: Canberra Stadium, Canberra
Referee: Ben Williams
Crowd: 5735

Sydney FC: 1. Clint BOLTON (gk), 4. Mark RUDAN (captain), 7. Robbie MIDDLEBY, 9. David ZDRILIC, 11. Brendon SANTALAB (6. Tony POPOVIC 46'), 14. Alex BROSQUE, 15. Terry McFLYNN, 18. Adam CASEY (3. Nikolas TSATTALIOS 38'), 19, Michael ENFIELD, 23. Ufuk TALAY, 25. Daniel SEVERINO (24. Ben VIDAIC 66').

Substitutes not used: 30. Matthew NASH (gk).

Yellow cards: Clint Bolton 52', Nikolas Tsattalios 63', Tony Popovic 66', Alex Brosque 69'.

Central Coast Mariners 1. Matthew TROTT (gk), 6. Andre GUMPRECHT, 7. John HUTCHINSON, 9. Nik MRDJA, 11. Damien BROWN (13. Tony VIDMAR 81'), 16. Nigel BOOGAARD, 17. Matthew OSMAN, 18. Alex WILKINSON, 19. Adam KWASNIK (5. Brad PORTER 74'), 22. Sasho PETROVSKI (10. Tom PONDELJAK 69'), 23. Michael JEDINAK.

Substitutes not used: 20. Danny VUKOVIC (gk).

Yellow cards: Sasho Petrovski 56', Nigel Boogaard 90'.