On Sunday afternoon, Nick Montgomery’s Central Coast Mariners stood toe-to-toe with Arthur Pappas’ Newcastle Jets at a wet and windy McDonald Jones Stadium for the first F3 Derby of the 2021-22 Isuzu UTE A-League Season.
A second half quick-fire double from Josh Nisbet and Jacob Farrell saw the Central Coast Mariners take out the first 3 points on offer of the new season with the Jets finding the net from the head of Valentino Yuel.
The inclement weather set the tone early in what was to be a true derby day. Mariners Head Coach Nick Montgomery named a largely unchanged line-up from their FFA Cup clash in Mudgee, with Cy Goddard coming in to mark his starting debut for the injured Matt Simon and Ruon Tongyik returning to the starting eleven.
Jacob Farrell made his Isuzu UTE A-League debut just days after his 19th birthday and it was he who caught the eye early on, after a frenetic, end-to-end start to the match where Farrell was called upon multiple times and stood strong time and time again.
The early sparring continued with Marco Ureña making his way in behind the Newcastle defence, but the ball just wouldn’t hold up for the Costa Rican in the tough conditions.
Olivier Boumal and Daniel Penha looked the dangerous for the Jets, but the Mariners’ defence was well-organised and repelled each Newcastle attack.
Cy Goddard and Béni Nkololo had their fair share of chances after good link up play down both flanks and they entered the box on several occasions, whilst Josh Nisbet found himself picking up any loose balls and looked to feed the Mariners forwards.
When called upon, Mark Birighitti was up to the task in the unpredictable conditions – denying Savvas Siatravanis from a driven volley, and a Daniel Penha edge-of-box curling effort.
Heading into the half time break, Ureña found himself in behind the Jets defence once again after a defence-splitting ball from Nkololo, but he couldn’t apply the finishing touch as he saw his shot flash inches wide of the upright, which left the sides even after the first 45.
It only took five minutes of the second half for the Mariners to break the deadlock and it was the unlikely scorer of Josh Nisbet who provided it. Max Balard nicked the ball from the Jets in the midfield and fed Marco Ureña who found himself on the edge of the box and deftly slipped in Josh Nisbet to expertly finish from a tight angle for his first in a Mariners Jersey. Cue scenes of delirium from the travelling Mariners fans and players alike as Nisbet finally broke his scoring duct in his 42nd A-League appearance.
Just six minutes later, the roles were reversed as Nisbet set up an onrushing Ureña but his shot was deflected out for another Mariners corner.
From the resulting corner, defender Jacob Farrell would find himself on the end of a brilliant delivery from Cy Goddard with a perfectly timed diving header. An absolute thunderbolt off the head of the Mariners Academy graduate who wheeled away in delight, scoring his first goal, less than a month after signing his first professional contract.
The Mariners began to dominate possession and saw plenty of the ball, playing comfortably from defence to attack, and the likes of Nkololo and Urena were still full of running in the latter stages of match.
With 25 minutes left to play, the Jets substitutes would combine to spark the game back into life when Valentino Yuel’s header would hand Newcastle a lifeline.
However, a well-organised and resolute defensive performance from the Mariners kept the Jets at bay for the remainder of the contest and the introduction of Harry Steele added to the defensive solidarity.
Late in the match, the Mariners were still looking dangerous and almost put the sealer on the contest when substitute Moresche struck the crossbar in the dying embers. The scoreboard would not change however and the brilliant, well-rounded derby performance ensured that Nick Montgomery and his men would leave McDonald Jones Stadium with all three points, with attention now turning to the match against the Wellington Phoenix next Saturday.
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