2018-19 Australian A League, Regular Season
  • Louis Fenton (9')
  • Sarpreet Singh (45')

Wellington Phoenix pile misery onto Mariners with historic win

Slumping Central Coast have an unwanted place in A-League history after a 2-0 away loss to Wellington.

Phoenix full-back Louis Fenton and forward Sarpreet Singh bagged their first goals of the season in Saturday's opening half and that proved comfortably enough against the injury-plagued visitors, who remain stuck at the bottom of the table.

Rubbing salt in the wounds, the Mariners' start to the season is the worst in the league's history. No other team has recorded just two competition points through the first eight rounds. The result also extends their winless run to a club-record 14 games, including losses in their past six.

The Mariners never looked like breaking that duck, with an injury crisis seriously affecting the quality of their play at Westpac Stadium. Already missing key front men Ross McCormack and Tommy Oar, they lost goalkeeper Ben Kennedy this week to a leg injury, forcing Mike Mulvey to hand 21-year-old Adam Pearce his A-League debut.

Pearce was partly to blame for the ninth-minute opener, having blocked a deflected strike from Mandi directly to the feet of Fenton. He could do little about the second, when Roy Krishna snuck past Kalifa Cisse too easily and centred to Singh, who comfortably slotted home from close range.

It was a second-straight win for the resurgent hosts after last week's 3-1 boilover against Sydney FC. Captain Andrew Durante said this week the long-struggling Kiwi outfit were taking their game to a new level under Mark Rudan.

While their finishing was clinical, they were as guilty as the Mariners of giving away possession carelessly in what was mostly a messy contest.

The Phoenix were content to operate largely off the break through speedy striker Krishna and also looked impressive down the left flank, where 18-year-old full-back Liberato Cacace was the original source of both goals. Rudan made one change, with fit-again goalkeeper Filip Kurto replacing Oliver Sail.

The Polish stopper wasn't forced to make a save until the 80th minute.

Mike Mulvey pleaded with Central Coast fans not to give up on his team, but said it was his team's worst poor performance of the year and would prompt a re-think of tactics and personnel if they're to avoid matching last year's wooden spoon finish.

"But it's not slit your wrist time. It's about waking up, smelling the roses and saying 'ok, what do we really want this football club to look like'," he said. "Right now, I know what everyone's thinking outside the club, 'There's the Mariners again, look what's happened the last four or five years'.

"This club was proud once in terms of winning the championship, contesting four grand finals in 11 years. I think we need to take a deep breath after this game, go home and decide what club we really want to be."

It was a second-straight win for the resurgent hosts after last week's 3-1 boilover against Sydney FC.

Coach Mark Rudan challenged Wellington to maintain their standards after going from underdogs to heavy favourites seven days later.

"We kept them calm and focused and concentrated," he said. "It was a bigger test this week, for the first time against a team we were expected to beat. "That was the most pleasing thing because it's mentality more than anything else."