The Central Coast Mariners have secured a hard fought 2-1 victory on Friday night, defeating Brisbane Roar at Kayo Stadium.
After a night spent waiting for an eventually cancelled flight and an early morning trip to Brisbane Friday, the side dug deep throughout the entire 90 minutes to secure a result.
Constantly displaying our signature Won’t Back Down attitude, the team fought against adversity to grab the three points.
The match marked two special occasions, the first being new recruit James McGarry’s first minutes for the Central Coast Mariners. The defender played 56 minutes after transferring from the Newcastle Jets midweek, with the New Zealand international fitting in well just days after arriving.
The game also saw Mariners academy youngster Olayinka Sunmola make his A-League men’s debut, just a week after making his Mariners NPL debut against Western Sydney.
Substituted on in the 85th minute, the young forward looked dangerous from the beginning, showing the skill that he has in his arsenal during a short cameo.
After an even opening 15 minutes the Mariners begun to find some momentum, first coming through the in-form Sammy Silvera. The winger collecting the ball after a poor touch from Tom Aldred, unleashing yet another one of his long-range strikes.
Just the outstretched leg of the British defender stopped Silvera adding his fifth for the season, with the shot being the first of our 22 in total throughout the night.
Two minutes later the Mariners got their reward, with new recruit James McGarry whipping in a left footed corner. His cross falling perfectly in the six-yard box, eventually finding Storm Roux.
The fullback thinking sharply to pass the ball to Marco Tulio directly in front, with the striker calmly firing it in from close range. The goal giving the Mariners a deserved 1-0 lead in the 19th minute.
In the 21st minute the Roar were controversially awarded a penalty to get back in the match, with Tulio deeming to have fouled Carlo Armiento in the box. The striker seemingly hardly touching the Brisbane winger; however the decision was upheld after being viewed by VAR.
Jay O’Shea converted in the 23rd minute, placing it just past the outstretched arms of Danny Vukovic, tying the score at 1-all.
Cummings almost regained the Mariners lead in the 33rd minute, with the Socceroo collecting the ball after a cutback from Tulio. His strike rattling off the upright, with Silvera’s shot from the rebound blocked as it flew goalward.
Both sides had chances to end the first half, with neither doing enough to give themselves the lead. The match well and truly up for grabs as the two teams went to the sheds.
Midfielder Max Balard had the best of the early second half chances, with his effort from the top of the box only stopped by a last-ditch Brisbane block.
The Mariners were awarded a penalty in the 66th minute, after Dan Hall was clipped by Scott Neville.
The defender looking to clear the ball, connecting with Hall’s leg as well. After VAR closely examined the decision, it was upheld, with Beni Nkololo handed the ball to convert from the spot.
The Frenchman did just that with superb accuracy, calmly slotting the penalty into the bottom right corner. His cool effort handing the Mariners a 2-1 lead, restoring the advantage in the 69th minute.
Brisbane begun to chase an equaliser shortly after, slowly beginning to put the pressure on the Mariners. Skipper Danny Vukovic held strong, making two smart saves to keep the Central Coast’s lead intact.
Marco Tulio had the perfect chance to ice the match, with the forward finding himself free mere metres out from the goal line. After being found by the cross the Brazilian could only find the keeper, with Brisbane still in the fight.
It ultimately would not matter, with the Mariners defending resolutely to secure the three points after an incredibly difficult and tiring 24 hours.
The victory moves the Mariners back into second position on the Isuzu UTE A-League ladder, leapfrogging the Wanderers before they play on Saturday.
The sides attention now turns to next weekend’s away trip to face off against Perth Glory, before returning home to take on Wellington Phoenix in the A-Leagues Pride Celebration.
Tickets are available for that match here.