Gauci stars in Adelaide goal but Central Coast Mariners sneak win

Rookie Adelaide United goalkeeper Joe Gauci saved two penalties but Central Coast Mariners still managed to register a 2-1 win in an engrossing top-of-the-table A-League clash.

A goal from Kusini Yengi wasn't enough to cancel out the two goals from Alou Kuol and Oliver Bozanic.

In just his fourth game and having secured a superb save in his side's win over Sydney FC on Sunday, Gauci was at it again at Central Coast Stadium with spectacular parries in the 17th and 57th minutes.

- Stream ESPN FC Daily on ESPN+ (U.S. only)

With the Reds enjoying a 1-0 lead, it looked to be something of another penalty curse for the Mariners, who had bizarrely conceded three the last time the teams had met.

But Mariners refused to let their misfortune dictate the result.

Bozanic, who'd missed the second penalty attempt, pierced three Reds defenders to unfurl a low strike to beat Gauci at the left post in the 72nd minutes.

Just four minutes later Kuol had the home side in front for the first time. Joshua Nisbet drew in Gauci and made the custodian commit before laying back to the unmarked Kuol from close range.

Reds midfielder Craig Goodwin was called out by the VAR for a handball in the 17th minute with veteran Matt Simon, who later had a header disallowed with an offside, stepping up to the spot.

Central Coast Mariners came out on top over Adelaide United.
Photo by Morne de Klerk/Getty Images

Gauci saved the shot down the middle to frustrate the ladder leaders, but plenty more drama was to come.

Defender Jordan Elsey saved off the line in the 44th minute and then three minutes after the break a lovely long ball from Reds defender Ryan Strain caught out Jack Clisby out, Ben Halloran squeezing his cross to Yengi who beat goalkeeper Mark Birighitti.

Bozanic stepped up after another handball, Gauci this time diving to his right to make what seemed like a save the would break the Mariners' backs.

Yet the steely Central Coast showed why they have been the surprise of the season, dominating much of the rest of the match to secure the result.

It ended the Reds' six-match winning streak and got Central Coast back on track after they hadn't registered a win in their previous three clashes.