Victory outclassed at Central Coast

Melbourne Victory were put to the sword by an impressive Central Coast Mariners at Bluetongue Stadium on Saturday, falling to a 6-2 loss to the league leaders.

Melbourne Victory were put to the sword by an impressive Central Coast Mariners at Bluetongue Stadium on Saturday, falling to a 6-2 loss to the league leaders.

Michael McGlinchey scored a hat-trick, Mitchell Duke scored a brace - and also conceded a penalty - while Nick Fitzgerald also got on the scoresheet for the Mariners.

Victory had drawn level via a Mark Milligan penalty, and then within a goal in the second half via a Trent Sainsbury own goal, but they were eventually outclassed minus Marcos Flores and Archie Thompson.

The Mariners led on 17 minutes when Duke produced a classy finish to a chipped Bernie Ibini cross.

Ibini was played through the Victory defence and when goalkeeper Nathan Coe attempted to shut down the striker's angle, he laid off to Duke, who poked home into an empty net.

Francesco Stella then had a brilliant chance for the quick reply in the 20th minute after dancing his way into the area, but his curling left-footed shot went wide of the target.

Playmaker Marco Rojas then created plenty of space for Connor Pain to finish on the left, but after the youngster took a touch, the Mariners defence shut him down quickly.

Victory's pressure paid off just minutes later though, as Duke fouled Daniel Mullen inside the area, and Milligan put the penalty away despite Mat Ryan guessing the right way and getting a hand on the shot.

Coe was then at full awareness when McGlinchey put in a cross-cum-shot, with the young custodian keeping a clean pair of hands in the wet conditions.

Duke was too quick and too slick to reinstate the Mariners' advantage in the 32nd minute, as he nicked past the on-rushing Coe to tap into another empty net.

Andrew Nabbout came on for Stella at the interval, in a clear statement of attacking intent from manager Ange Postecoglou.

Unfortunately, though, Victory would concede next, when McGlinchey put pressure on Mullen at the back and chipped over Coe for his first.

Midfielder Leigh Broxham then had a gilt-edged chance to get a goal back just after the hour mark, when the ball fell to him in space inside the area, but his right-footed effort struck the left upright and went out for a goalkick.

Adama Traore then brought down McGlinchey in the area, but Danny McBreen fired the resultant penalty into the crossbar in a major reprieve for the visitors.

A Mariners own goal when Ryan parried into defender Sainsbury off a right-wing cross from Victory's Diogo Ferreira, who was a second-half substitute for Sam Galloway, got the visitors back into the contest.

The ball trickled off Sainsbury past a beaten Ryan to give Victory hope of salvaging a result, but those hopes were dashed when Fitzgerald fired in a fourth to send the Mariners back to the top of the league after Western Sydney overtook them earlier in the day.

McGlinchey powered home a second, and chipped in a third, to top off a dreary night for Postecoglou's men.

Victory remain in third spot in the table, nine points from leaders Central Coast.

Central Coast Mariners 6 (Duke 18, 32, McGlinchey 57, 87, 90 Fitzgerald 81) Melbourne Victory 2 (Milligan 23 pen, Sainsbury og 68)