Sydney FC have bounced back from their heavy Asian Champions League loss with a 3-0 victory over Central Coast in Gosford.
The Sky Blues were thumped 4-0 by Yokohama F Marinos just four days prior, but managed to put away a defiant Mariners in the dying minutes at Central Coast Stadium in front of a crowd of 5,376.
Although the teams are separated by 30 points on the A-League ladder, the game was tense at 1-0 until the 89th minute when Marco Tilio and Harry van der Saag scored their first goals to put the result to bed.
The dual goals broke an 80-minute deadlock after Milos Ninkovic had scored the opener from an easy cross kick in the ninth minute.
The biggest moment of the game came just before half-time as VAR overturned a Mariners goal which would have been the first for Gianni Stensness. The Mariners were lucky to get the free kick in the lead-up, but Stensness's header was denied soon after, as Eunsun Kim blocked Alex Wilkinson from an offside position.
It was a contentious moment which split opinion. Although technically correct, it was deemed harsh by angry Mariners fans. Central Coast coach Alen Stajcic was furious while returning to the sheds at half-time and was filmed in a tense conversation with referee Chris Beath in the tunnel.
He then spoke to Fox Sports and, when asked if it was the correct decision, he said: "No, no chance. They said the blocker was offside. I haven't seen a blocker called for offside all season. As long as they stick with that for the next 100 games of A-League, we'll be right."
The Mariners put up a tough fight against the A-League champions, taking the game down to the wire with a flurry of activity in the second half.
Meanwhile, Sydney's Paulo Retre will cop a suspension for his fifth yellow card of the season for disrupting a free kick in the 21st minute. He will miss next week's derby with Western Sydney, which was rescheduled from round 18 due to poor weather.
The Mariners will play Western United on Sunday afternoon at GMHBA Stadium.