Gold Coast United opened up a two-point lead over second-placed Sydney FC despite drawing 1-1 away with seventh-ranked Central Coast Mariners at Bluetongue Stadium in Gosford this evening.

The first half proved scoreless, but things livened up in the second half.

Joel Porter gave Gold Coast the lead in the 66th minute.

Jason Culina’s corner from the right was headed wide by a defender, but Kristian Rees knocked the ball back across goal, where Porter’s header was blocked on the line.

The ball came back to Porter, who fired home from close range.

A minute later, the Mariners were level when Bas van den Brink pulled down Nik Mrdja and conceded a penalty.

Mrdja took the spot kick himself and sent a left-footed effort straight down the middle as goalkeeper Jess Vanstrattan dived to his left.

Within a minute of the equaliser, the tackles started to flow frequently and ruthlessly, resulting in a flurry of yellow cards.

Seconds into stoppage time, the Mariners' Nigel Boogaard received a second yellow and was sent off.

In the second half, Mariners substitute Michael McGlinchey missed several gilt-edged chances, while at the other end, Kristian Rees should have scored with a couple of headers.