The Central Coast Mariners have ended 2022 in style, coming away with a 2-1 win over Melbourne Victory at Industree Group Stadium on Saturday night.
In front of over 10,000 Mariners fans the side put on a show, never trailing as we dominated much of the fixture.
The match also marked the end of Garang Kuol’s Mariners career, as he embarks on the next chapter of his footballing journey with English Premier League club Newcastle United.
After a tight opening 10 minutes the Mariners were able to take the early lead, coming through the head of Jason Cummings.
The play starting through Garang Kuol, who switched the ball across to an overlapping Storm Roux. The right back composing himself, cutting back in on his left foot before whipping in an incredibly dangerous cross.
His ball finding an unmarked Cummings on the six-yard line, with the Socceroo blasting it hard across the goal to hand us a 1-0 advantage in the 11th minute.
One Mariners goal seemingly became two only eight minutes later after Cummings again found the back of the net, pouncing on a loose ball in the box. With the cannon fired and Mariners fans around the ground celebrating, the referee was instructed to look at a potential offside via the VAR.
It was judged that Cummings was offside when he was on the receiving end of a headed pass from Brian Kaltak, some four passes before he put the ball in the back of the net.
Despite the disappointment of having the goal disallowed, the Mariners continued to push, looking the more threatening of the two sides.
Ultimately it was Victory who got themselves level in the 39th minute, coming off the back of a thunderbolt by Spaniard Cadete. The wing back collecting the ball just outside the area, dribbling his way into the 18-yard box.
The defender hitting a curling shot with his left, swinging back into the goal before finding the top left corner. The goal leveling the scores at 1-all.
The Mariners almost responded perfectly just three minutes later, with Cummings finding a bit of room 20 yards out. His curling effort reminiscent of his memorable F3 Derby goal, this time the Socceroo unable to quite get enough curve on his shot, sailing just wide of a relieved Matt Acton. That shot the last meaningful chance of the half, with the scores level at 1-all heading into the break.
It took the Mariners just seven minutes in the second half to regain the lead, with Cummings not to be denied his double after even more scramble following a corner.
Marco Tulio whipping in a looping cross over the group of Victory defenders standing in the centre of the box, with Kaltak finding some free space. The Ni-Vanuatu defender guiding the ball back into the mixer, Cummings calmly slotting it home from directly in front.
The Mariners lead restored, the score 2-1 in the 53rd minute.
One final piece of Garang Kuol magic almost sealed the Mariners a penalty, with the youngster gliding past multiple Victory defenders before playing a ball through to Josh Nisbet.
The midfielder running onto the pass, before getting taken out after getting the first touch to the ball. Despite initially awarding the penalty the referee was instructed to go to VAR, eventually ruling that the challenge was fair.
With 20 minutes left to play the Mariners continued to push, finding space regularly in behind Victory’s midfield. The fresh legs of Sammy Silvera and Michael Ruhs causing havoc, the later testing Acton with just 5 minutes of regulation time.
The powerful striker running onto the ball, dribbling into the penalty area before unleashing a low flying rocket. His shot narrowly parried away, keeping our advantage to just one.
Resolute defending sealed the result, holding out Victory for the six minutes of stoppage time for an important three points.
The Mariners finishing 2022 in second on the Isuzu UTE A-League Men’s ladder, collecting our third consecutive home victory.
The Mariners eyes now turn to our first clash of the New Year, as we face Adelaide United at Industree Group Stadium at 5pm next Saturday.