CENTRAL COAST coach Graham Arnold hopes his players have received the ''kick up the backside'' they need as the club chases a first A-League championship.
Arnold was scathing of his team's performance in Saturday night's 2-1 loss to Perth, labelling it the worst he had seen in his three years at the club.
The Mariners are now just one point clear of second-placed Western Sydney, and may be overhauled when the teams meet in a fortnight.
Central Coast are yet to win an A-League championship, despite twice claiming the Premiers' Plate and reaching three grand finals. Arnold's team is well placed to break that title drought this season.
But the former Socceroos coach said his team couldn't afford to put in another performance like they did against Perth.
''It was probably the worst performance since I've been at the club,'' he said. ''We were totally out-enthused and we were second to everything.
''If you have four or five players who have an off night, you get punished for it, and we got the kick up the backside that hopefully we need.''
Arnold said he was unlikely to make any knee-jerk changes for Saturday night's clash with Melbourne Victory at Bluetongue Stadium.
''You don't punish people for one-off performances. You expect a reaction next week,'' he said. ''We've still got our own destiny in our own hands.''
Perth Glory remained four points adrift of the top six, despite snapping a five-match losing run and ending a goal drought that had stretched to 6½ hours.
Bernie Ibini gave Central Coast the lead in the 13th minute, but goals either side of half-time to Travis Dodd and Shane Smeltz ensured new Glory coach Alistair Edwards started his tenure with a win.
Edwards hoped the triumph over the league's best side would inspire a charge into the finals.
''When you've got belief in what you do, you can build on that,'' he said. ''The guys in the room are extremely experienced and good players.''