Victory edge out Mariners

Melbourne Victory produced the ultimate smash and grab job on the Central Coast Mariners to rocket up to fourth place on the National Youth League ladder.

Melbourne Victory produced the ultimate smash and grab job on the Central Coast Mariners to rocket up to fourth place on the National Youth League ladder.

In general, the Mariners dominated the game, but a telling rearguard action brought the rewards Victory's way thanks to a 1-0 win at John Cain Memorial Park.

Bustling striker James Kalifatidis' 11th minute goal proved to be the telling blow in a success that moves Victory above Newcastle Jets and Perth Glory in the standings.

While the three points will be greatly received by Victory, the Mariners will certainly lament what could have been, especially considering the only goal came against the run of play.

They really dictated all aspects of an engaging, often heated contest which featured 11 yellow cards, but not one red, enjoying superior possession and field position, particularly during a second-half which Central Coast searched in vain for an equaliser.

Victory goalkeeper Sebastian Mattei was a central figure in his side's ability to stave off the Mariners and was rewarded with a clean sheet.

The custodian wouldn't be denied, pulling off a string of quality saves, right to the death in a performance that stamps him as a rising star.

Mattei was also assisted by a tight back four in front of him, featuring the ever-impressive Matthew Foschini, over-age left-back Evan Berger, the uncompromising Nicholas Ansell and fellow central defender Petar Franjic.

The battle between the Victory's back four and the Mariners front-pairing of Mitchell Duke and Bernie Ibini-Isei added some warmth on a bitterly cold, windswept afternoon in suburban Melbourne.

Both appear to have bright futures, Duke working his socks off throughout, but his toil went unrewarded in the goal department.

The rangy Ibini-Isei has a real presence and showed glimpses of talent during a highly-entertaining 55-minute cameo.

The Mariners were also well-served by left-back Marc Warren, who didn't need a second invitation to press forward and fellow left-footer Jerry Kalouris also caught the eye in a hard-working display.

For Melbourne Victory coach Mehmet Durakovic, an accomplished defender in his playing career, the grit and resilience shown by his troops under pressure, would have been just as pleasing as the three points.

Victory are now on 18 points, trailing Gold Coast (22), AIS (19) and Brisbane (18) on the ladder, with Central Coast languishing in seventh place on the nine-team ladder with 14 points from their 11 matches.

Melbourne Victory 1 (Kalifatidis 11) Central Coast Mariners 0