Central Coast Mariners have continued preparations for the upcoming season by defeating Isuzu UTE A-League opposition Wellington Phoenix 2-0 in a pre-season friendly at Valentine Sports Park.
The meeting took place on Saturday, August 6 in perfect conditions for football with the match consisting of three 30-minute periods.
Wellington Phoenix, who were recently coming off an Australia Cup match just a few days prior, rotated much of their squad with the players who took part in the cup match only featuring in the final period.
The Mariners two goals came in the opening section of the game. After Sam Silvera was brought down in the box, Béni Nkololo calmly scored the resulting penalty with a small stepped run up.
The second goal came with the final kick of the first period as defender Dan Hall found the back of the net from a corner.
In the second period, Mariners continued to threaten in front of goal with decent chances falling to both Jason Cummings and Béni Nkololo, but no addition to the score was made.
The final 30-minute section saw the first minutes against Isuzu UTE A-League opposition for youngsters Lachie Bayliss and Jakob Cresnar, as well as another appearance for Maksim Kasalovic who made his debut in the Australia Cup Round of 32 against Sydney FC.
Despite a close one-on-one chance for Wellington in the final stage of the game, Mariners goalkeeper Yaren Sözer stood up strong to maintain a clean sheet for the side.
Experienced centre-back Brian Kaltak also featured in the game having returned to the club on trial after an impressive trial the end of last season was cut short due to injury. Head Coach Nick Montgomery was keen to invite the Vanuatu international back and he played 90 minutes alongside Dan Hall and then Cameron Windust, thwarting Wellington’s attack and helping keep the clean sheet.
Head Coach Nick Montgomery spoke about the importance of the pre-season friendly.
“It was a tough game as Wellington are always very organised and in general it was an even contest played properly by both teams. It was again a good opportunity to get minutes into the legs after a hard week of training and also expose more NPL boys to playing against A-League opposition as both teams made plenty of changes. Of course happy with the clean sheet and two goals as winning habits are important.”
Central Coast Mariners kick-off their Isuzu UTE A-League campaign at home to Newcastle Jets on Saturday, October 8th.
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