LNTUP

Powell’s late strike brings all points for Mariners

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Substitute Blake Powell propelled Central Coast into the A-League’s top four with a one-sided 1-0 win over a gritty Perth.

Last weekend, Powell marked his return from nearly a year recovering from injury with an assist against Wellington.

At Gosford on Sunday, the 26-year-old attacker replaced Kwabena Appiah with 13 minutes to play and had created and scored the game’s only goal by the time the clock had ticked down to 12.

That the two sides could not be separated early was scarcely believable, such was the Mariners’ dominance.

They were finally rewarded when Powell played an inch-perfect pass to star playmaker Danny De Silva, who rushed to the byline and cut back for Powell to hammer into the underside of the crossbar.

The result gives the Mariners back-to-back wins for the first time since February and lifts Paul Okon’s fledgling team into fourth, leaving travel-weary Perth seventh.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Okon opted for an unchanged XI from the 4-1 away shellacking of the Phoenix.

They were met by a Glory outfit conspicuous in the absence of big attacking three Diego Castro, Adam Taggart and Andy Keogh, the skipper unable to overcome a groin issue in time to make the trip east.

Keogh’s strike replacement Joe Knowles made his first start since his debut two years ago, and the 21-year-old might have made an impact had he been given some service.

For the Glory could barely keep 30 percent possession, and by halftime the home team had everything but a goal.

Jake McGing’s work rate and impeccable crossing yielded two strong chances for Appiah, who was thwarted by Liam Reddy.

Man-of-the-match De Silva pleased the 8,115-strong crowd with his trickery, flicking a cute backheel to Andrew Hoole amid his constant menace.

The Glory relied on some timely last-line defending and the odd counter-attack that would have put them ahead just before the break had Ben Kennedy not expertly denied an on-target Mitch Nichols.

Central Coast could not quite maintain their first-half fluency and Perth, the most prolific side in the last 15 minutes of games, slowly circled.

But Wout Brama burst free and deftly teed up Appiah in the goal mouth, only for Joseph Mills to get there first, before Powell came off the bench.