Gritty Mariners delight Arnold
Central Coast Mariners coach Graham Arnold believes his side's ability to grind out victories will make them difficult to beat this season.
The Mariners turned on the entertainment as they thrashed Sydney 7-2 last week, but had to work much harder for their 1-0 win away to Wellington Phoenix on Sunday.
It took a cool finish from Daniel McBreen in the 69th minute to claim all three points at Westpac Stadium – a venue where many Australian teams come undone, but one which is becoming like a second home to the Mariners.
The win on Sunday was their fourth in five visits under Arnold and lifted them to the top of the A-League table.
It was also the Phoenix's third successive loss, a run which leaves them ninth.
"What I love so much about our team is that even when we don't play well we know how to defend and grind out a win and we know how to play well as you saw last week," Arnold said.
"The fact that we can do both, not many teams can do it in the league."
McBreen's goal was his fourth in two games following a historic hat-trick against the Sky Blues last Saturday.
"At the moment he's got a lot of confidence," Arnold said.
"He's playing a new role for us... and he's got a lot of boys around him that are doing a lot of work."
One of those boys is impressive youngster Tom Rogic, who laid on the goal for his striker on Sunday.
"The weight of pass for that goal was sensational," Arnold said.
"Daniel only had to take one touch and then finish."
Rogic, who took a knock to the knee late in the first half, had a couple of scoring chances early in the second as he began to exert more influence on the game after being reasonably well contained by Phoenix midfielders Alex Smith and Manny Muscat in the first half.
Arnold's message to the teenager, who has been called up by Australia for Wednesday's international friendly against South Korea, has been to 'play with a smile on your face'.
"When you're that young and you've got that much natural talent try and pretend you're playing in the backyard with your mates and some people have turned up to watch," Arnold said.
"They don't need pressure. The pressure is on the senior boys. They are the ones that are expected not to make mistakes. The young boys are expected to make mistakes.
"With young Tommy it's 'you've got a defensive job to do, do it, but with the ball excite people, entertain' because that's what he's good at."