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Okon proves credentials in Mariners win

AAP logoAAP 24/11/2016 Matt Encarnacion

Paul Okon took a huge step in his A-League baptism of fire as a rookie coach after ending Central Coast's unwanted 36 straight games without a clean sheet with a win over Perth.

Not only did the Mariners hold out their opposition for the first time in more than 18 months, but they also moved into the top six for the first time in almost 30.

The win justifies Okon's confidence in his team despite registering just the one win before Thursday night, however he was quick to deflect praise for finally breaking the drought.

"We're happy with the first clean sheet of the season," he said.

"The number 36 doesn't interest me - it's from the start of the season. We've managed to do it in round eight and if we can continue to do that, we'll be in every game that we compete in."

The Mariners claimed all three points despite coming off a four-game turnaround, forcing Okon to ring in four changes to the line-up, including the insertion of a 19 and 20-year-old.

And the alterations provided instant dividends, with Adam Berry and Trent Buhagiar playing key roles in the win.

"Everyone knows when you throw young boys in, they run, they have no fear," Okon said.

"And fortunately for us, they're two boys that can play football. I'm happy with that decision. We knew that the energy needed to be high."

The win lifted them above Western Sydney into sixth spot, a position they haven't occupied since going down to the Wanderers in a semi-final in 2013-14.

Okon said he was always confident of his side improving, even when they were down 3-0 at halftime of their season-opener in Perth, where they eventually took a share of the points.

"That may sound stupid, but I see what we're working on during the week and we're a good team," he said.

"If you're going to focus too much on those sorts of (droughts), then your opinion's not going to change. I will only speak about what I've seen since I've been here, and that's a good football team that lacked confidence.

"It needed to get some good performances in to build that confidence. We have two wins now off the back of that and we just want to continue to build."

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