Mariners fall to 2-0 defeat against Melbourne Victory

The Central Coast Mariners have fallen to a 2-0 defeat against Melbourne Victory on Sunday evening at AAMI Park. 

Despite dominating the possession with 73 percent of the ball, the Mariners struggled to convert that pressure into chances. Unable to capitalise on the possession, two Melbourne goals at the beginning of each half was enough to secure them the victory. 

It was the home side who got off to the ideal start, with veteran striker Bruno Fornaroli scoring their first. The play starting with a long and looping ball from defence, it made its way through to the striker on the edge of the penalty area. 

Fornaroli hitting it on his first touch, directing the ball over the head of Danny Vukovic and into the net through the aid of a deflection. The goal handing the home side a 1-0 lead in the 16th minute against the run of play. 

Neither team created any clear-cut chances over the following 20 minutes, with Sammy Silvera having the next opportunity of meaning. The winger initiating the play, crossing the ball over to Christian Theoharous on the left. 

Silvera receiving it back directly on the penalty spot, firing over the bar. The Mariners did have one final opportunity to draw the scores level, with Theoharous collecting the ball on the left edge of the penalty area. 

The winger unleashing a lovely strike, beating the outstretched hand of Paul Izzo before the shot narrowly rose over the goal. That effort the final of the half, with the Mariners heading into the sheds with work to do. 

Central Coast head coach Nick Montgomery opted to make two changes coming out of the break, with Brian Kaltak and Moresche injected into the fixture. Dan Hall and Theoharous making way for the duo. 

The away team almost drew the scores level immediately after the break through Moresche, with the striker getting on the end of a beautiful cross from Silvera. His headed effort ballooning over after finding himself unmarked on the six-yard box.

One became two for Melbourne shortly after, with Chris Ikonomidis driving to the by-line, cutting the ball back to the six-yard box. 

Fernando Romero arriving on time, touching it past Vukovic and into the net. The goal doubling the home sides advantage in the 55th minute. 

A long ball from Brian Kaltak and some lovely positional play from Jason Cummings again almost pulled one back for the Mariners in the 60th minute.

Our Socceroos striker taking a few dribbles before laying it off to the oncoming Moreche. After taking a touch the Brazilian unleashed an effort, sailing narrowly over the crossbar. 

Romero soon turned from hero to villain for Victory, initially receiving a yellow card for a challenge on Max Balard 35 yards out. 

Upon VAR inspection it became apparent that Romero had hit our midfielder with his studs halfway up the lower leg, with the card being upgraded to red in the 63rd minute. 

Victory did almost score their third shortly after, with Vukovic required to make a smart save to his left. Our goalkeeper blocking the shot away from danger in the 73rd minute with a strong hand, denying Melbourne. 

With Josh Nisbet, Nectar Triantis and James Bayliss on the pitch the Mariners begun to take full control, as Melbourne sat their entire side behind the ball.

The Central Coast thought that they had found a way back into the match in the 79th minute, with the referee pointing to the penalty spot. 

Marco Tulio seemingly fouled from behind by two Victory defenders, falling to the ground from the contact. Upon VAR intervention the referee deemed that a clear and obvious error was made, overturning the decision. 

The best of the Mariners final chances came after some lovely work from a free kick through Silvera, playing a pass at the perfect angle to Harry Steele. The midfielder beating his man to the ball, directing it past the upright to the left of the goal and out for a goal kick. 

Despite consistent pressure that shot was the final meaningful chance for the Central Coast, with Melbourne coming away with the 2-0 win.  

The Mariners now have next weekend off due to the international break, before returning to Our Paradise to take on Brisbane Roar on Saturday April 1st at 5pm. 

Beni Nkololo will return from suspension and be eligible to be selected, with Jacob Farrell and Dylan Wenzel-Halls both expected to be available following illness and injury respectively. Tickets for that game are available HERE.