Mariners take lead as Sydney coach quits

Central Coast Mariners jumped to the top of Australia's A-League as Ian Crook quit as coach of Alessandro Del Piero's troubled Sydney FC club on Sunday.

Former Juventus star Alessandro Del Piero (C) talks to goalkeeper coach Zeljko Kalac (R) and coach Ian Crook (2nd R) during his first training session with Sydney FC on September 18. Central Coast Mariners jumped to the top of Australia's A-League as Crook quit as coach of Sydney FC on Sunday.

The Mariners downed Wellington Phoenix 1-0 in New Zealand to lead Adelaide United on goal difference after the Reds were held to a 1-1 draw at home by Perth Glory.

But there was fall-out at Sydney FC where Crook quit citing the pressure of the job after just two wins in six A-League games this season.

His departure follows a second bad defeat in as many weeks and heckling by fans after the substitution of Italian superstar Del Piero in the latest loss on Saturday.

Crook's Sky Blues relinquished a 2-0 lead to lose 3-2 to arch-rivals Melbourne Victory at home on Saturday, conceding three goals in the final 13 minutes.

Del Piero, Sydney's marquee signing, was substituted in the 66th minute when Sydney were leading 2-0, only for Melbourne to put in a stunning final burst to snatch an unlikely win.

The former Juventus star and Italian World Cup winner, 38, sat out last week's loss with hamstring problems.

Former England international Emile Heskey scored the winner to fuel Newcastle Jets' strong start to the A-League season on Saturday.

Heskey's close-range flick put the Jets in front in the 36th minute and they held on against the strong-finishing Western Sydney Wanderers for a 2-1 away victory.

It was the one-time Liverpool forward's fifth goal in six A-League outings.

Daniel McBreen followed up his hat-trick from the previous week's 7-2 rout of Sydney to get the winner for the Mariners over the Phoenix 1-0 in Wellington on Sunday.

The Mariners weren't allowed space or time on the ball by the Phoenix but still claimed their fourth win of the season and now go to the top of the league.

McBreen's 67th minute strike came after a scoreless first half, and was set up by boom youngster Tomas Rogic's superb run and pinpoint cross.

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Writer: AFP
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