Super-sub Mitchell Duke’s double helped the Central Coast Mariners to a 3-1 come-from-behind win against Adelaide United in Gosford.
In a match befitting a top-of-the-table clash, Duke entered the fray in the 61st minute and scored two goals in five minutes to give the Mariners a six-point buffer at the top of the table.
Mariners midfielder Michael McGlinchey sealed the win in the 88th minute.
Former Gold Coast player Daniel Bowles netted the opener, his first goal for the Reds, against the run of play in the 39th minute.
The 21 year-old’s left foot shot took a slight deflection off Mariners midfielder Oliver Bozanic to give the visitors an unexpected lead.
The Mariners dominated first-half possession, with four chances inside 19 minutes in a match which at times mirrored the home side’s 2-1 home win in December where they also fell behind after dominating early possession.
Bowles’ goal was one of Adelaide’ three first-half attempts on goal compared to the Mariners 13.
Graham Arnold’s men had three chances in three minutes at one stage.
They included Daniel McBreen hitting the left hand post and Adelaide goalkeeper Eugene Galekovic pulled off a stunning save to deprive Bozanic. Bernie Ibini, returning from a trial with Belgian side Club Brugge, also missed a chance.
As they sought the icebreaker the Mariners chances included a comical situation in the 36th minute when McBreen hit a shot into the back of team-mate Bozanic.
Three minutes later John Kosmina’s side hit them with Bowles’ goal.
The Mariners came out firing in the second half and Duke’s first goal came after a sustained period of possession which included the Mariners having four corners in the first 15 minutes.
Sandwiched between Duke’s 67th and 72nd minute goals was a penalty save from Galekovic when he guessed correctly in diving to his right to save McBreen’s attempt.
The penalty came after Bowles night turned bad when he conceded a handball after Duke’s shot struck his right arm.
More Mariners’ pressure saw Pedj Bojic and substitute Nick Fitzgerald combine in the lead-up before McGlinchey nailed the third goal.