Mariners and Victory battle out entertaining draw

Central Coast Mariners and Melbourne Victory shared the points at Our Paradise on Sunday afternoon, after an entertaining and hard-fought 2-2 draw.

Alou Kuol opened the scoring for Mariners on 16 minutes, before Bruno Fornaroli levelled matters with a moment of magic right on half time.

Victory started the second period brightly and took the lead when Nishan Velupillay curled home to make it 2-1, but an Angel Torres penalty ensured the spoils were shared.

Mark Jackson named an unchanged starting eleven for the third consecutive game at Our Paradise.

Josh Nisbet was the headline inclusion for Mariners as he made his 100th A-League Mariners appearance, whilst Dan Hall pulled on the Mariners jersey for the 50th time in the league.

The home side started brightly and could have been ahead less than two minutes in, had Kuol or Will Wilson arrived in the box just a second earlier to meet Angel Torres’ dangerous cross. 

Minutes later Kuol had another half chance, stretching to try and convert Wilson’s delivery from the right but unable to make a clean contact.

Our number nine would find the finishing touch on 16 minutes though, he robbed Roderick Miranda of possession in his own box before rounding Izzo to slot home his second Isuzu UTE A-League goal of the season.

A first sight of goal for the division’s top scorer, Bruno Fornaroli, came just after the half hour mark but he couldn’t keep his diving header down. 

The Uruguayan forward would make his mark however, with what was the last kick of the first half. Cutting in from the left hand side with some tidy skill, Fornaroli managed to wrap his right foot around the ball and curl it perfectly into the top corner, leaving Danny Vukovic with no chance.

The visitors came out on top at the start of the second half and another moment of individual quality saw them take the lead after 52 minutes.

Nishan Velupillay made room for a shot on the edge of the box and curled the ball past Vukovic.

Mariners responded well though as they looked to get back on terms. Jackson was proactive with his substitutions, freshening up the attack with a double change, as Christian Theoharous and Jing Reec replaced Wilson and Kuol.

The changes almost paid dividends immediately as well, as Theoharous played the ball through to Reec but he was denied by Izzo.

Hall then came close to marking his landmark appearance with a goal, glancing Marco Tulio’s in-swinging free-kick narrowly wide of the post.

The Mariners pressure would tell on 73 minutes as we were awarded a penalty for handball. With Tulio subbed off moments before, it was Torres who took responsibility from the spot and he made no mistake, sending Izzo the wrong way to square the score again.

The hosts were now in the ascendancy as we looked for a winner, on 86 minutes a fantastic switch of play from Brian Kaltak allowed Mikael Doka to whip a dangerous ball across goal, Izzo just managed to get a touch on it to deny Reec a tap in. Theoharous managed to keep the ball alive and tee up substitute Miguel Di Pizio, who saw his low effort blocked.

Izzo was called upon in the 92nd minute as he had to back-pedal to tip Jacob Farrell’s cross-shot over the bar. 

At the other end, Connor Chapman headed wide from a Victory free-kick, the closest Victory came after taking the lead on 52 minutes.

In the end the points were shared after a well-fought game. The Victory remain unbeaten in the Isuzu A-League this season, whilst the Mariners extend their unbeaten run in all competitions to three games.

Not long to wait until your next opportunity to visit Our Paradise as we are at home again on Friday, with Western United making the trip to Gosford.