1 Jan 2009

Central Coast go top of A-League

5:49 am on 1 January 2009

A stunning late strike to John Hutchinson ensured Central Coast will start 2009 on top of football's A-League after a 1-nil win over Perth.

Despite dominating possession and enjoying a large majority of chances, the Mariners looked to be heading for a scoreless draw in front of a healthy New Year's Eve crowd of 15,546, their biggest of the season.

But midfielder Hutchinson struck with a swirling 25-metre shot which bounced in off both uprights in the 80th minute to give his side a vital win and end the Glory's top four hopes.

The Mariners now lead the competition by one point, though second-placed Adelaide have three games in hand and top-four rivals Melbourne and Queensland have two.

Importantly, the result created a four-point gap between the top four and fifth-placed Wellington, with three rounds remaining.