Mariners plunge closer to A-League spoon

Alex Lopez scored twice as Brisbane beat A-League cellar dwellers Central Coast 5-3 in Gosford.
Alex Lopez scored twice as Brisbane beat A-League cellar dwellers Central Coast 5-3 in Gosford.

Brisbane took a major step towards handing back-to-back A-League wooden spoons to the Mariners with a drama-charged 5-3 win at Central Coast Stadium on Friday.

The round 20 result put second-last Brisbane eight points clear of Central Coast with seven rounds remaining.

Central Coast finished with nine men and played the last 28 minutes with 10 after Aiden O'Neill was shown a second yellow card for dissent.

Captain Matt Simon copped a second yellow in the fifth minute of additional time for a foul after a first-half booking for dissent.

Roar led 3-2 at the break after barely firing a shot in the opening half an hour before producing two of the goals of the season to spark an amazing 15-minute period.

Frenchman Eric Bautheac scored in the 32nd minute with an audacious bicycle-kick strike after he chested up a chipped ball from Dylan Wenzel-Halls for himself.

Spaniard Alex Lopez then hit a cracking volley in the 38th minute but the Mariners responded two minutes later.

Connor Pain scored with a well-placed header off Matt Millar's cross for 2-1 and he was then denied in an equaliser in the 40th and 41st minutes.

Brisbane struck next when Dane Tobias Mikkelsen beat two defenders to lob Ben Kennedy with a header off Bautheac's cross in the 45th minute.

Central Coast capped a frantic finish to the half when O'Neill beat Jamie Young with a driving strike in the second minute of injury time.

Lopez scored his second in the 54th minute with a low shot through the legs of a defender to restore a two-goal buffer.

The hosts suffered a setback when a penalty call denied by referee Stephen Lucas and the VAR in the 56th minute when Simon was pushed in the back close to goal.

O'Neill, who committed a foul in the 35th minute, was marched in the 62nd before Wenzel-Halls rubbed salt in the Mariners' wounds.

He scored a fortuitous goal in the 74th minute after a blocked ball fell perfectly for him to hit the target.

Substitute Jordan Murray pulled back a consolation goal with an 82nd minute header.

Mariners coach Mike Mulvey shared the frustration of his players after they copped seven yellow cards and two reds and had two VAR calls turned down for penalties.

"You can never excuse players who lose their heads and get sent off for whatever reasons but the amount of frustration that the lads must have been feeling ... ," Mulvey said.

Interim Brisbane coach Darren Davies said his side, beaten 4-0 by leaders Perth last week, were "fantastic" and thoroughly deserved the win.

"The goals we scored were top drawer," Davies said.

"I'm over the moon for the boys in there."

Australian Associated Press