Phoenix striker scores own goal in heavy defeat by Central Coast Mariners

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NZN

Central Coast have ended a five-year winless A-League drought in Wellington, outplaying the Phoenix 4-1 tonight in a clinical display.

Second-half strikes from Daniel De Silva, Andrew Hoole and Trent Buhagiar pushed out a 1-0 halftime lead from a Phoenix own-goal, with a Dario Vidisic header - his fourth of the season - Wellington's only consolation.

The return of skipper Alan Baro from suspension bolstered the Mariners' backline, but it was their control in the midfield, masterminded by the Dutch duo of Tom Hiariej and Wout Brama, which set up their second win of the season.

Wellington had a full contingent of fit players to call on, their only surprise selection coming with Lewis Italiano starting in place of teenage custodian Keegan Smith for the first time this season.

The pace of Roy Krishna created most of the opportunities for the Phoenix in the first half, while Hoole's canny distribution and Kwabena Appiah's speed caused problems for Wellington.

De Silva's quick feet and vision also kept the Phoenix scrambling, with Italiano forced into a quickfire double save after half-an-hour, first blocking Hoole's initial strike then scrambling back to clear De Silva's follow-up.

Barely five minutes later, Hoole featured again, whipping in a well-placed corner which found the net via Andrija Kaludjerovic's head as the Nix striker looked to clear.

Ahead 1-0 at halftime, the Mariners started the second spell strongly, taking just nine minutes to double their lead after a Gui Finkler error at the back gifted possession as Wellington looked to play the ball out.

De Silva's finish sparked Central Coast into a period of sustained pressure, their lead ballooning out to three after 66 minutes when Hoole lashed home into the top right corner from long range to all but put the game beyond doubt.

Vidosic's 71st-minute finish from Matthew Ridenton's well-placed free-kick gave only a brief glimmer of hope for the 5679-strong crowd, with Buhagiar completing a masterful Mariners display with his 93rd-minute strike.

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