A spectacular strike from midfielder Brandon O'Neill gave Sydney FC a hard-earned 2-1 away A-League victory over winless Central Coast on Saturday.
O'Neill's left-foot screamer from 25 metres in the 65th minute in Gosford rocketed into the net after the Mariners backed off and allowed him to take two touches and advance closer to goal.
There's talk of overseas interest in O'Neill but Sydney coach Steve Corica says the club wants to extend his contract, which expires at the end of the season.
The Mariners dominated the first half hour at Central Coast Stadium against a flat looking Sydney, who eventually roused.
"Last week we played well and got nothing out of it. Today we didn't play well," Sydney coach Corica said.
"We didn't got the ball down at all in the first half. Everything was going long and we didn't pick up any second balls and we had to do a lot better."
"The second half was better," said Corica, who wants to add a striker with pace in the January transfer window.
Mariners skipper Matt Simon, who switched from Sydney FC in the offseason, ensured some scoreboard reward for the home team when he slid home a Matt Millar close from close range in the 16th minute.
But Adam Le Fondre equalised from the penalty spot in the 42nd minute, after Jack Clisby fouled Rhyan Grant just inside the area. Kennedy got a hand to Le Fondre's fierce spot kick down, but could only tip it into the roof of the net.
Mariners coach Mike Mulvey was adamant it wasn't a penalty and felt an independent panel of ex-players should help with the VAR process. He believed last-place Mariners were on the right track and needed to retain belief after their fourth straight loss.
"I thought we played some really good stuff today," Mulvey said. "Just those lapses of concentration where we were on our heels for the penalty and the lad skipped past on the left-hand side and I think Brandon had three or four touches on the ball before he actually unloaded."
Prior to the goal Le Fondre, who has scored six goals in as many A-League games, had one shot blocked and another attempt from the Englishman had Mariners goalkeeper Ben Kennedy scrambling across his goal.
The home team had two chances in the first 25 seconds, with Connor Pain's shot blocked by Grant and a follow up attempt blocked by Sky Blues goalkeeper Andrew Redmayne.
Early on, the Sky Blues looked unsettled by the Mariners pace out wide and robust approach, with Simon clattering into Jop van der Linden and Jacob Melling catching Milos Ninkovic on the knee.
Prior to O'Neill's winner, Sydney came closest to breaking the deadlock with Dutch defender Van der Linden smashing a free kick against the crossbar.
The Marines tried hard to find an equaliser.in the final 20 minutes. Aiden O'Neill had along range shot pushed away by Redmayne while substitutes Tom Hiariej and Michael McGlinchey both fired wide.
Meanwhile, there was a hold up in play in the second half when a man on crunches wearing a moon boot made it on to the field, and gesticulated to the crowd before he was removed by security.