Central Coast Mariners underlined their title credentials by inflicting a 4-1 defeat on Canberra United in the Liberty A-League fixture played in Gosford.

Following the loss to Western Sydney Wanderers on Wednesday, United Head Coach Njegosh Popovich recalled Ruby Nathan and Cannon Clough into the starting line-up, the duo replacing Holly Murry and Alex McKenzie respectively for Canberra’s first-ever match against the Mariners in Gosford.

With the famous sauce bottles as a backdrop Canberra had the first shot on target as early as the second minute with Deven Jackson forcing Casey Dumont into action, but it was the Mariners who struck first as Bianca Galic fed Wurigumula. Her initial strike was saved by Coco Majstorovic, only for the Chinese international to follow up and tap home.

Two minutes later the Mariners were two-up. Isabel Gomez threaded a pass into Kyah Simon, whose first-time touch was exquisite, right into the path of Rola Badawiya who thumped a low drive into the far corner.

Canberra responded with heart, Vesna Milivojevic forcing a save from Dumont, but it went from bad to worse for the visitors just past the half-hour as the Mariners, once more, scored twice in the space of two minutes.

Simon netted the first, converting from the penalty spot after Sarah Clark was penalised for handball, before Badawiya netted her second, collecting a Jazmyn Wardlow cross at the far post, the first touch taking the ball away from her marker, and finishing superbly past Majstorovic.

Trailing 0-4 at the break, Popovich replaced striker Michelle Heyman with Ava Piazza, and United fashioned a decent opening when Nathan backheeled a cross into the path of Deven Jackson who saw her curling shot parried away by Dumont.

Canberra continued to press, seeking an unlikely way back into a match that appeared well out of reach, Cannon Clough’s return to the side curtailed on 65 minutes with the appearance of Alex McKenzie, before Piazza saw a long-range free-kick tipped over the bar by Dumont.

It was some encouragement for the those in green, but the Mariners always had the destination of the points in their hands, the four-goal first-half blitz having seen to that, however there was some consolation close to the end when Nickoletta Flannery bundled home from close range.