Goalkeeper Liam Reddy pulled off a spectacular penalty save to ensure Central Coast christened its new home away from home with a 1-0 win over battling Wellington at a noisy North Sydney Oval on Thursday night.
Watched by a good festive season crowd of 6755 at the picturesque ground, Storm Roux’s first A-League goal in the 27th minute was enough to separate the teams, although Reddy had a big say in the outcome.
He dived low to his left to block Stein Huysegems’ firmly-hit spot kick just after half-time to preserve the Mariners’ one-goal lead after Roux was adjudged to have brought down Manny Muscat in the box.
They failed to score that time and Wellington blew another chance five minutes from the end when Jeremy Brockie shovelled the ball over the bar with only an empty net in front of him.
Reddy denied the visitors on at least half a dozen other occasions in a real man-of-the-match performance.
Equally impressive was the turn-out for the Mariners’ first home game at North Sydney, certain to be a forerunner to further matches at the historic ground in the future.
It was the first top flight game in North Sydney since Northern Spirit played there in the old National Soccer League days and the teams turned on a decent show to mark the occasion.
The goal came after a period of sustained pressure from the hosts just before the half-hour mark.
Ben Sigmund failed to clear Mile Sterjovski’s cross from the right and Roux was on hand to slam home his first goal.
It brought a tense game to life as goal scoring opportunities started to mount.
Marcos Flores and Daniel McBreen combined a few minutes later, freeing McBreen for a shot that was brilliantly saved by Glen Moss.
It was then the Mariners’ turn to come under siege and they have Reddy to thank for ensuring there was no equaliser.
He pulled off saves to deny Louis Fenton and then Jason Hicks in a frenetic five-minute period.
Reddy’s penalty block was the highlight of an entertaining second half, but Moss was equally brilliant at the other end.
He somehow deflected Nick Fitzgerald’s goal-bound effort just before the hour in a save that will be right up there with the best this season.
The win sees Central Coast climb two places to fourth while the Phoenix remain winless and second from bottom.
Central Coast Mariners 1 (Roux 27)
Wellington Phoenix 0