Mariners 1 Adelaide United 0
Michael McGlinchey on the run. Photo: Getty Images
Central Coast boss Graham Arnold was full of praise for his players after Saturday's 1-0 win over Adelaide United and said it was the best start to an A-League season since his arrival at the club in 2010.
The defending champions missed a hatful of chances against the Reds and were almost made to pay late in the game when Adelaide's impressive playmaker Sergio Cirio skipped past three defenders in the box but shot at the wrong side of the post.
It would have been tough on the hosts had they not claimed their first win of the season with Matt Simon, Nick Fitzgerald and Marcos Flores all missing good opportunities to give a more comprehensive look to the final score.
Fitzgerald's second-minute strike made all the difference but Arnold said he was pleased to see his side carve out plenty of opportunities.
''There was a lot of promising things and I'm always happy when you are creating chances,'' Arnold said. ''We had enough chances to win three games of football tonight. But the good thing about it was that we stuck to our defensive structures and the game plan even though we were missing a few players.
''Even though we missed chance after chance we didn't lose concentration … but it's the best start to a season in the three years I have been at the club.
''We do start slow and we are about 50 per cent of where we will be in another four or five weeks. We are a team that build into the season.''
Despite the loss, Adelaide manager Josep Gombau was happy with how his side is adjusting to his pass-and-move philosophy.
The former Barcelona youth team coach is revolutionising the Reds from long-ball pragmatists to a team happy to keep possession and build from the back.
In the shape of Cirio and former Brisbane winger Michael Zullo, Adelaide had the two most eye-catching performers on display in front of the crowd of 9109.
However, there was little cutting edge in the final third of the field with Mariners goalkeeper Justin Pasfield largely untroubled.
But the Spaniard said he saw enough from his players to give him plenty of optimism.
''I am satisfied with the team because we played the game how I wanted us to,'' Gombau said.
''We made many, many passes and had all the possession of the game but we don't create enough chances.''