Central Coast moved back to second in the A-League after a 2-2 draw with Sydney on Sunday.
Argentine Patricio Perez was at his scheming best throughout and needed to be after Sydney dominated much of the first half against a tired looking Mariners outfit.
Teenager Dimitri Petratos scored two first-half goals to have the visitors on course for an upset victory in Gosford.
The young striker beat the off-side trap to open the scoring in the 17th minute before capitalising on a terrible blunder from veteran defender Patrick Zwaanswijk 10 minutes later to put Sydney two goals clear.
Mariners coach Graham Arnold changed his formation at half-time, playing three up front and only three defenders with striker Daniel McBreen coming on for defender Trent Sainsbury.
The move paid off four minutes into the second half when midfield maestro Patricio Perez cut inside Stephan Keller and fired home a left foot shot. It was his fourth goal of the season and first from open play.
In the 57th minute Perez was the provider when his well-placed freekick was headed home by Matt Simon to make the score 2-2. It was Simon’s 11th goal of the season.
The Mariners dominated the final 25 minutes but failed to score a winner. McBreen had a low shot saved by Sydney goalkeeper Liam Reddy in the 79th minute and replacement Mustafa Amini fired over from close range with only two minutes to play.
In the earlier match, Wellington Phoenix kept their finals hopes alive with a 4-0 win over Perth Glory.
The three points lifted the Phoenix above the Newcastle Jets into seventh place – one point behind sixth-placed Melbourne Heart – with an away fixture against Brisbane Roar and a home tie against the Jets in the next seven days.
A goalkeeping blunder by Tando Velaphi gifted the home side their first goal after 10 minutes and they wrapped up the win in the second spell with a well-taken free-kick by Dylan Macallister, a volley by Vince Lia and a late header from Chris Greenacre.