Despite an impressive double by Mariners attacker Kwabena Appiah, the Central Coast Mariners bow out of the Westfield FFA Cup after a 3-2 defeat to Blacktown City FC at Lilys Football Centre.
Blacktown City FC 3 (Gibbs 2’, 82’ & G. Speranza 17’) Central Coast Mariners 2 (Appiah 32’ & 54’)
The Run Down
A Westfield FFA Cup fixture at Lily’s Football Centre is an exciting premise, and it did not disappoint the 1000 strong crowd who were gifted five goals on a cold night in Seven Hills.
In an emotional week for football fans across Australia, both sides paid tribute to the passing of football icon Les Murray with a minute silence.
The unfamiliar synthetic surface at Lily’s Football Centre was always going to prove a challenging task for the Mariners and it showed in the opening stages as the visitors took time to settle in and establish fluent ball movement.
Blacktown seized their only two chances and took an early two goal lead when a counter attack down the left was converted by Giorgio Speranza who fired across goal into the corner after Joey Gibbs’ free-kick from distance.
Despite going two goals down, the Mariners boasted majority of the possession and began to take control of the game. The second goal seemed to spur the Mariners to life and momentum started to sway in the way of the Yellow & Navy.
Two goals up, Blacktown bolstered their backline and looked determined to defend meaning the Mariners would need to fight hard to get back into the match,
Particularly through the relentless efforts and attack of Appiah, the Mariners came to life and created chance after chance in the front third. Appiah’s combinations with the likes of Andrew Hoole, Connor Pain & Josh Bingham were proving deadly.
32 minutes in, Appiah was first to react, picking up a loose ball, cutting inside his defender before curling a beauty into the far corner. The contest started to liven up with cracks starting to appear in the blockade of black jerseys across the 18-yard-box.
At the 40th minute mark a loose ball fell to Tom Hiariej who fired a venomous strike only to be denied by the fingertips of Blacktown’s keeper. Hiariej’s strike smashed into the bottom edge of the crossbar and somehow did not cross the line which would have been a barnstorming equaliser.
Heading to the sheds at halftime down 2-1 the Mariners were right on top, dominating the number of chances, possession and only trailing by a goal. With roughly 70-30 possession after 45 minutes it was only a matter of time until an equaliser would follow.
Okon’s men came out firing in the second half and immediately earned several corners and opportunities, looking certain to score. Rarely the ball would make its way into the Mariners back third.
Again, it was the energy of Appiah who would level the scores after a set piece. The Mariners showed their character and fighting spirit away from home and the scores were locked at 2-2.
The Mariners continued to create chances and looked certain to hit the lead, particularly on the left flank through Pain who caused havoc for the Blacktown defence. A wicked Josh Rose delivery across the face of goal just screeched past Bingham and Appiah which would have given the Mariners a 3-2 lead.
As the game ticked on, Blacktown took advantage of a rare counter attack which found Gibbs in space and he placed his shot into the bottom corner. This was Blacktown’s third shot on target for the match and third goal.
Time now sparse, on came Okon’s substitutes who continued the onslaught of Mariners possession and control over the game. In the dying embers of the match the Mariners looked certain to take it to extra time but they just couldn’t find the finishing touch.
3’ GIBBS GOAL: A foul to Blacktown on the edge of box gave them a set piece in a dangerous area. Gibbs fired over the wall and into the back of the net.
17’ SPERANZA GOAL: On the counter Blacktown broke through the middle and out to the left, Gibbs played Speranza who fired across the face of goal and into the top corner.
32’ APPIAH GOAL: Appiah pounced on a loose ball, beat one defender, then turned inside a second defender before bending a perfectly placed shot just inside the far post to put the icing on a very impressive solo goal.
54’ APPIAH GOAL: After a free-kick on the right wing was fired into the mixer, Golec won the header. Appiah reacted fastest to poke at the ball with his head and chip the keeper.
82’ GIBBS GOAL: Blacktown countered on the right and Araujo found a charging Gibbs at the top of the box who placed his shot into the bottom corner.
Paolo in the press:
“I thought we were excellent tonight,” Okon said. “They had a plan to sit back and take whatever chances came their way from us losing the ball trying to force things. It was made a bit more difficult going a goal down after four minutes that we should never concede.
“The positive thing for us, is that there’s a few gears we can step things up, I thought our movement was excellent, we created a number of chances and certainly should have scored more goals.
“The disappointing thing is that we gave away three cheap goals and we’re now out of the cup.
“If we hadn’t of turned up tonight and played the way we did then maybe there would be some concern but again I don’t think we did too much wrong. We have players to come in, I think we’re going to be a really exciting team.
“Synthetic was always going to be a bit of a challenge for us, it’s not an excuse. Playing against a defensive block when you’re behind you maybe try and force things too much but credit to Blacktown, they go through and we wish them luck.
“The gap between NPL and the A-League is massive, we saw that tonight. The way we controlled the game, the way we moved the ball. They struggled to get near us. Their three goals weren’t scored because they outplayed us, they were scored because they were goals we gave them.
“We hadn’t conceded up until tonight, that’s the really disappointing thing about it – the three goals we gave away because I thought we did enough in the 90 minutes to win the game quite comfortably. The positive thing is that we are nowhere near our fitness levels and we will certainly step things up,” Okon said.
Central Coast Mariners: 20.Adam PEARCE (gk), 3.Josh ROSE, 5.Antony GOLEC, 15.Alan BARO, 2.Storm ROUX (c), 4.Jake MCGING, 6.Tom HIARIEJ (16.Liam ROSE 87’), 7.Andrew HOOLE (10.Daniel De SILVA, 87’), 13.Kwabena APPIAH, 11.Connor PAIN, 17.Josh BINGHAM (12.Trent BUHAGIAR 87’)
Unused Substitutes: 30.Tom GLOVER (gk) & 21.Kye ROWLES
Blacktown City FC: 1.Tristan PRENDERGAST (gk), 3.Giorgio SPERANZA, 4.Roberto SPERANZA, 5.Grant LYNCH, 6.Matthew LEWIS, 8.David ARAUJO, 9.Joseph GIBBS, 10.Connor EVANS, 17.Lewis BEUMIE, 19. Zachary CAIRNCROSS, 22.Yuta KONAGAYA
Subsititutes: 20.Dylan NISKI (gk),12.James ANDREW, 18.Mason IRELAND, 21.Bo Hyum (Kenny) CHUN, 16.Evangelos PATRAMANIS
Wednesday, 2 August 2017
Lily’s Football Centre, Seven Hills
Blacktown City FC vs. Central Coast Mariners