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Mariners aim for elusive back-to-back wins

AAP logoAAP 1/12/2016 Emma Kemp

Fuelled by a drought-breaking clean sheet, goalkeeper Paul Izzo is set on helping Central Coast claim back-to-back A-League wins for the first time in nearly 1000 days.

The Mariners are saying goodbye to one unwanted statistic at a time under new coach Paul Okon.

Last Thursday's 2-0 upset of Perth put an end to 36 games without a clean sheet and sealed the club's first home win since New Year's Eve.

Having experienced first-hand the disappointment of conceding 70 goals last season, Izzo was relieved to finally give commentators something to talk about other than his side's leaky defence.

"It's great to finally get the monkey off the back, but more importantly we won the game which is the bigger picture," the 21-year-old gloveman said.

"It's a sign of how things are changing around here, the style we've got going on now is completely different.

"It would have been extremely disappointing if we'd conceded and only won 2-1."

That triumph lifted Paul Okon's charges into sixth spot, one ahead of Saturday's opponents Western Sydney.

The challenge now is going one better than their 1-1 draw with Tony Popovic's side five weeks ago.

Do that and the Mariners will taste successive victories for the first time since April 2014.

"It would be a great way to make a statement and maintain our spot in the top six," Izzo said.

"But we don't want to look too much into the ladder at this stage of the season, we just want to focus on our style and keep trying to perfect the way we play."

Meanwhile, the club have released teenage goalkeeper Tom Heward-Belle from his contract effective immediately.

The 19-year-old, who was third choice behind Izzo and Ivan Necevski, requested a release to spend more time in Sydney focusing on university.

Heward-Belle made three appearances for the Mariners, including an impromptu A-League debut on Boxing Day last year when he was thrown into the mix following Izzo's red card in the 4-1 loss to Sydney FC.

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