A Bernie Ibini brace helped A-League leaders Central Coast to an emphatic 5-0 win over battling Wellington on Thursday in Gosford.
Ibini scored in the 30th and 87th minutes as the Mariners ran riot to move six points clear at the top of the ladder.
The in-form Ibini was ably backed up by Daniel McBreen who continued his incredible goal-scoring run, and Central Coast kept their impregnable home record record intact.
Central Coast are two wins clear of Melbourne Victory on top of the table and, with a massive goal difference of 22, are looking increasingly difficult to reel in.
Ibini’s second goal, created by a superb through ball from McBreen, was followed by another from substitute Mitchell Duke on a memorable night for the home side.
McBreen, the league’s leading goal-scorer, claimed his 15th of the season in the 69th minute as the Mariners extended their undefeated home record this season to 10 games – nine wins and one draw.
In the lead-up to the clash, Mariners’ coach Graham Arnold challenged his side to aim for 50 premiership points, as they seek a second straight premiership, and they responded in kind.
Ibini’s first-half goal was powerfully added to in front of 6774 fans with a John Hutchinson strike in the 65th minute and a bullet header from the irrepressible McBreen from a corner in the 69th.
Earlier, Pedj Bojic had missed two golden chances to extend the Mariners’ lead. But that mattered little as they decimated the second-last Phoenix who have little to look forward to in the final third of the season – in stark contrast to their conquerers.
Arnold heaped praised on his side after the win.
“I thought we were very, very good,” he said.
“I’m very happy – it was fantastic.
“(But) it could have been 10 … I was disappointed with the execution over 90 minutes.”
Wellington coach Ricki Herbert pulled no punches in assessing his side’s effort.
“I thought we were hopeless tonight … we were dreadful,” he said.
“It was an embarrassing night for the club. It wasn’t acceptable.”