Déjà vu for Mariners with late sucker-punch

After just a two-day break, Nick Montgomery’s Central Coast Mariners returned to Central Coast Stadium to face Perth Glory for the first time this Isuzu UTE A-League season. With little respite after the 3-3 draw midweek to Macarthur, the football frenzy continued for the Mariners throughout the month of February.

The game was to see yet another late deciding goal cause heartbreak for those in yellow; with Jason Cummings’ first goal at Central Coast Stadium ruled out by a late Daniel Stynes equaliser, deep into injury time.

Nick Montgomery

The first 10 minutes of the match saw early sparring for possession, with neither team really taking a foothold in the contest. Lewis Miller began what was to be a brilliant individual performance, clocking up some early metres in the legs, denying the Perth frontline any joy in front of the Mariners area.

The first real chance of note for Montgomery’s men would find the feet of Jason Cummings, after a brilliant run from the ever-industrious Nico Müller – however Cummings couldn’t quite get the right purchase behind his effort from the edge of the eighteen.

Mark Birighitti was to be called into action on a few occasions throughout the match, the first being a powerful long-range effort from Aaron Calver, which saw Birighitti leap through the air and claw the ball away from his top corner.

A handful of chances were as a result of a positive press from the Mariners frontline, in particular, Jason Cummings who would pick the pocket of the Perth defence to create another scoring opportunity.

The connection between the Mariners front-three; Müller, Ureña and Cummings was on full show – with Marco showing a plethora of quality touches and flicks around the corner on multiple occasions to slip in his onrushing attacking partners.

Perth Glory glove-man Cameron Cook had his work cut out for him in the first half, between the marauding runs of Müller and Miller creating several chances for Ureña and Cummings to test Cook’s quality, however he stood strong against a dominant Mariners display to keep the contest a stalemate going into halftime.

The first cab off the rank after the halftime break was Cy Goddard, entering the fray for Matt Hatch.

Goddard’s introduction to the game saw an eager Antonee Burke-Gilroy with a professional foul in an attempt to put a halt to the trickery that was to come from Cy.

The chances continued to flow, in both the 47th minute and the 53rd minute with Ureña and Cummings respectively having another good chance each, however the Perth shot-stopper was to deny the pair yet again – the pressure continuing to build on Perth.

It took until the 58th minute before the deadlock was to be broken.

Mariners’ talisman Marco Ureña turned provider with a brilliant, chipped pass to unlock the Glory defence, finding Cummings just outside the six-yard box.

Cummings held off the nearby defenders to nestle the ball with his right foot, into the corner of the net to grab his first at the hallowed turf of Central Coast Stadium as he wheeled away in celebration towards the Mariners faithful.

Just a minute later, Müller and Cummings would combine once more and nearly put the Mariners two to the good, but the ball narrowly skewed wide.

In the 61st minute, Ureña would be replaced by Moresche to add some more fresh legs into the fixture.

A training ground set-piece almost provided the goods, as Ollie slipped the ball into the box which was fed back out wide to Goddard, blazing wide – just lacking the final execution of what would’ve been a fantastic dead-ball play.

Béni Nkololo showed glimpses of quality after entering the match, replacing Noah Smith after making his first appearance in the Isuzu UTE A-League this season.

A brilliant through-ball from Goddard found the newly introduced Nkololo in the box, who delicately lifted the ball over the Perth goalkeeper, only for the offside flag to unfortunately mute the celebrations of Mariners fans.

Although the majority of the chances in the second half fell the way of the Mariners – Birighitti was to be called on again.

An Aaron Calver cross down the right flank found an onrushing Fornaroli, and with an absolute point-blank reaction save, the Mariners number one somehow managed to find a way to keep the ball out of the net to the surprise of most in the stadium.

Unfortunately, the Mariners would be left to rue missed chances as Perth substitute Daniel Stynes would find a stoppage-time equaliser, as the Central Coast defence was unable to repel one final attack from the Glory.

Montgomery and his men would be left with feelings of déjà vu from just nights ago where points were stolen at the death against Macarthur, and now Perth.

The focus is now shifted to a string of away games against Melbourne Victory, Melbourne City and Adelaide United before returning to Central Coast Stadium for Pink Round against Brisbane Roar on the 5th of March.