The Central Coast Mariners have finished the pre-season on a high, defeating Western Sydney Wanderers 2-0 on Saturday afternoon.
Against a star-studded Wanderers outfit filled with many A-League regulars the Mariners proved too strong, even without a few notable names.
With Garang Kuol still returning from the UK and Jason Cummings recovering from his international travels and Socceroos duties, Michael Ruhs and Paul Ayongo were tasked with leading the line. The duo certainly didn’t disappoint, both scoring to hand the Mariners the win.
The game got off to an evenly contested start, with both defensive units playing well to hold out the opposition.
It took a Wanderers hand ball in the box for the Mariners to get the first clear-cut chance of the match, with Beni Nkololo having his penalty saved to keep the scores level.
Strong defence continued to keep chances for both sides limited, neither team ultimately troubling the scoreline in the opening 45 minutes.
With the second half underway the Mariners upped the tempo, creating a host of chances without quite finding the back of the net.
It took a Ruhs wonder strike to give Central Coast the lead, with the forward leaving Wanderers goalkeeper Lawrence Thomas rooted to the spot. His effort from the edge of the box left the shot stopper with no chance, giving the Mariners a 1-0 advantage.
Our relentless pressure only continued after that, with Sammy Silvera maintaining his brilliant pre-season form with a blistering run into the box.
The winger cut inside former Mariner Ruon Tongyik, finding space to try and tuck it into the net before being hacked down, giving us our second penalty of the game.
This time it was Ayongo who took charge, calmly slotting the penalty home to give us a 2-0 lead.
With 15 minutes remaining both sides made changes, looking to see out the match and give minutes to multiple players in the squads. Despite a few more solid counter attacking chances neither side scored another, the Mariners wrapping up the 2-0 victory.
With pre-season matches officially over, all eyes now turn to the commencement of the Izuzu UTE A-League Men’s season.
Kelechi John, Kuol and Cummings will all be returning to training this week, with the squad set to be strong heading into round one.
The Mariners kick off their campaign against the Newcastle Jets on October 8th at Central Coast Stadium, with tickets available HERE.