For the first time in 327 days the Central Coast Mariners finish a match with a smile on their face.

It was gutsy, heartfelt and at times nerve wrecking in a performance the home side and their fans could be proud of.

Central Coast Mariners 2 – 1 Melbourne City

After letting a two-goal lead slip last weekend to the Wellington Phoenix, the Central Coast Mariners needed to redeem themselves.

At home to Melbourne City, who have been in great form, was not going to be an easy task for the Mariners despite holding City to a one-all draw earlier in the season.

There was something different about the Mariners from the word go, playing with confidence and flair in contrast to previous weeks and very nearly hit the front four minutes in after a Matt Simon header went wide.

Though this time the Mariners were rewarded for their persistence and found themselves in front courtesy of a 32nd minute Connor Pain finish which had the home fans starting to believe.

The second half saw City starting to create but they failed to test goalkeeper Ben Kennedy with most of their attempts coming from outside the area.

It took a former Mariner in Lachlan Wales to find the equaliser for City, heading home a corner at the near post to put the upset of the season on hold. From there it appeared City had done enough to salvage a point but the Mariners were determined to not let yet another opportunity go to waste.

With four minutes of normal time remaining Matt Simon was fouled in the box by Rostyn Griffiths and the referee was left no choice but to point to the spot.

Up stepped one of the league’s greatest goal scorers against one of the best goalkeepers.

Eugene Galekovic may have won the battle, saving the penalty, but Simon won the war following through on the rebound to give the Mariners the lead.

There was still work to do for the home side as Florin Berenguer had a chance to equalise at the death only to be denied by a heroic Ben Kennedy who had to have made one of the most important saves in his career to keep him out.

The final whistle saw scenes often reserved for title winning moments and even though the Mariners still reside at the foot of the table, supporters can erase 327 days of pain from their memories.

Athos Sirianos