With the Bulls inaugural captain Mark Milligan celebrating a milestone 150 A-League matches and the Mariners playing in their pink charity jersey's, it was a night that both teams had plenty to play for.
After an even opening 45 minutes, that saw both sides show why they are sitting in the top tier of the competition, it would be the Mariners who would strike first.
A fortuitous goal 8 minutes in to Central Coast’s Matt Simon, from a deflection off Bulls defender James Meredith leg saw the ball fly over the head of keeper Adam Federici, opening the scoring early in the first half in Gosford on Monday night.
With the Bulls controlling a large portion of the possession throughout the match, a stubborn Mariners defensive line frustrated Macarthur’s continuous raids into the box.
Macarthur’s best chance of the night came three minutes after the half time break, when Beñat’s free-kick landed beautifully for Matt Derbyshire who had Mariners keeper Mark Birighitti scrambling to keep out.
Pressing hard, the Bulls rallied with 12 to 2 balls into the area midway through the second period trying to find an equaliser. Much like the first time these two teams met, the Bulls created plenty of dangerous chances with Beñat, Susaeta and Lachlan Rose all whipping in crosses only to miss the finish into the back of the net.
Mariners debutant Matt Hatch sealed the 3-points with his first touch in the A-League after a crafty ball from Kuol a few minutes from the full-time whistle.
Macarthur FC coach Ante Milicic said post-match:
“Central Coast have a distinct way of playing and they executed that very well tonight.”
“They got a lucky early goal. We are not going to create a great deal of chances against a team who is 1-nil up and sitting back, defending their lead.“
“We created enough to get back in the game, but Central Coast defended well and in the end we couldn’t finish.”
Macarthur FC now have a short turnaround facing Melbourne City on Friday night in Melbourne.