Mariners and Manly share points in NPL ‘Battle of the Beaches’

An exhilarating ‘Battle of the Beaches’ couldn’t be decided as Central Coast Mariners and Manly United FC shared then points after a 2-2 draw at Pluim Park on Saturday.

By Mitchell Roese, Football NSW

Luka Smyth netted a brace from the spot to move onto six goals for the season, which looked to have given the Mariners the victory but Manly’s Benjamin Koop equalised in the 86th minute to ensure the visitors took a point back to Northern Sydney, in round six of the National Premier Leagues Men’s competition.

In the 30th minute, Mariners winger Donatien Niyonkuru isolated himself with a Manly defender before drawing a foul inside the box. Smyth was ice cold from the spot, not for the first time, as he converted for his fifth goal of the season.

The home side almost doubled their lead in a matter of minutes as Taye Hedley fired from close range straight into the chest of Manly goalkeeper Levi Kaye.

The visitors showed resilience and got their reward in the 39th minute, as a ball across the face of goal found Miguel Bauza to equalise.

Both sides pushed but couldn’t find a goal to take a half time advantage, leaving the scores level at 1-1 at the break.

Manly came out brightly in the second half, with Bilal Belkadi’s not connecting with two chances, before some good defending from Andre Parkes denied Koop.

However, it was the hosts that regained their lead in the 65th minute, with newly elected captain Lucas Scicluna drawing a foul inside the box and Smyth again making no mistake from the spot despite a touch from Kaye.

There would be an exciting end to the game as both sides had chances. First, Niyonkuru was denied by Kaye, denying us a two-goal advantage.

Manly’s Jesse Piriz then went agonisingly close to the equaliser minutes later. His effort thumping into the crossbar, before Connor Rose’s attempt shortly after from close was blocked.

The visitors found an equaliser late on as Koop was able to get his foot to the ball first and poke it home.

Neither side were keen to settle for a point, going blow-for-blow in added time, keeping the crowd on the edge of their seats but neither could find a winner, as the game finished 2-2.

🗣 Vilela: “We are confident for the next game.”

Central Coast Mariners Men’s Academy Head Coach Lucas Vilela takes confidence from the game, heading into Wednesday’s clash against early high-fliers Western Sydney Wanderers.

Not the result we expected but we definitely had a win today by just having the boys put in a good performance,” said Vilela.

“Last week we had a good first half but then switched off, so the performance today showed it was a one off.

“Now we are confident for the next game against Wanderers.”

Central Coast Mariners: 40. Dylan Peraic-Cullen (GK) 2. Michael Paragalli, 4. Andre Parkes (14. Jacob Tresoglavic 87’), 5. Harry Menham, 8. Lucas Scicluna, 10. Luka Smyth, 11. Donatien Niyonkuru (18. Adil Toska 87’), 12. Taye Hedley (13. Yani Nassis 59’), 16. Prayaag Thapa (6. Jordan Small 63’), 33. Alexander Gountounas, 39. Adam Hall (19. Harvey James 87’).

Unused Subs: 20. Jai Ajanovic.