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Mar 16, 2022   |  1:14AM AET

Honours even in the West

Honours even in the West

The Mariners headed out west to take on a Perth side looking to overturn a bad run of form with their third home game in a row with the Western Australian border now open to the rest of Australia.

It was a first half onslaught from the hosts however Mariners keeper Mark Birighitti was on hand to save a Bruno Fornaroli penalty to keep the score level at half time.

In the second half, both sides cancelled each other out and the match petered out, with the contest remaining goal-less when Alex King blew the full-time whistle.

With the Western Australia border open, Nick Montgomery was forced into making a number of changes to his starting eleven, due to triple vaccine mandates, which provided opportunities for more Mariners Academy Products to make their A-League debuts.

James Bayliss was about to play NPL2 on Sunday afternoon against St George but received a call hours before taking to the field saying that he was on the plane to Perth and suited up for his first Isuzu UTE A-League start against the Glory. Noah Smith also played on the left wing in the changed eleven with Josh Nisbet partnering Oliver Bozanic in the middle.

Noah Smith had the first opportunity for the Mariners after he nearly poked home a saved Béni Nkololo effort at goal, but the reaction time required following the save was unable to be matched and it deflected off his knee and into the welcome arms of Brad Jones in the Glory net.

From this point on-wards, Perth began to take control of the contest and struck the cross-bar from an in-swinging Giordano Colli set-piece and the Mariners breathed a sigh of relief.

James Bayliss had an impressive debut for the club

Soon, VAR was the words on the lips of majority inside HBF Park as Jason Cummings found the ball strike his hand, but Alex King and the video assistant ruled that the contact was not enough to warrant a penalty.

Less than a minute later, former Mariners player Jack Clisby raced into the area past a stationary Jason Cummings and kicked the shin of Cummings, tumbling to the ground, with Alex King pointing to the spot.

Mark Birighitti has already saved two penalties and would soon add a 3rd from the five he has faced when he plunged down to his right, denying Bruno Fornaroli from 12 yards as he continues to highlight why he is one of the best glove-men in the country.

James Bayliss had an impressive debut at right back for the injured Lewis Miller and was on hand to clear a certain Perth opener late in the half as the defence was left exposed.

After a flurry of corners in the opening 45, no breakthrough would be found and both teams headed to the sheds.

Nick Montgomery clearly gave his team the fire-power needed to wake up his side as they came out in the second half looking for the go-ahead goal and Noah Smith again went close, nicking the ball in midfield, linking with Jason Cummings but sadly directing his effort off-target.

Next it was Cummings to test his luck, with Brad Jones behind the strike from the corner of the box.

As the legs began to tire from the Mariners after the 5 hour flight across the country, a number now realising how big Australia really is, Montgomery began to ring the changes which provided the perfect opportunity for further demonstration of the everlasting Mariners Academy.

Harry McCarthy, Cameron Windust and Dor Jok were introduced to the match and it was Jok, the former Perth boy, who received his first minutes of A-League football in the West up front. We are sure to see more of Jok and the Academy projects throughout this season who joined up with the squad after playing against St George in the NPL2 on Sunday at Pluim Park.

As the game fizzled out in the final moments, both teams were unable to muster any further efforts on goal and both teams finished how they started.

A point that doesn’t help either team’s final’s charge with the Mariners remaining in 8th on 16 points and the Glory at the foot of the table on 13 points.

This weekend, the Mariners return to Mudgee as they take on Macarthur and you can grab your tickets for that one here.