The Central Coast Mariners have fallen to a disappointing defeat against Western Sydney on Saturday afternoon, going down 2-0 at CommBank Stadium.
Despite dominating the majority of the match with over 60% of possession the Mariners were unable to capitalise on scoring opportunities, conceding two goals at the other end.
A red card for both sides brought the game to 10-on-10, with the Central Coast pushing valiantly without reward in the search of a game breaking late goal.
The match a memorable one for youngster Nicholas Duarte, with the academy forward brought on in the 81st minute to make his A-League debut.
It was a fast start from Western Sydney, with the home side dictating the play for the opening 15 minutes. The Mariners back four holding strong against the early barrage, with last ditch interventions proving to be key.
Jacob Farrell the man behind those important tackles on numerous occasions, thwarting the pressing Wanderers attack.
Pressure soon turned in an opening goal for Western Sydney, with the play starting in the middle of the park from Morgan Schneiderlin. The Frenchman finding Amor Layouni in space off the right, with the winger cutting in goalward.
The Tunisian international finding Brandon Borrello running in, with the striker’s shot initially saved by some brilliant work from Danny Vukovic.
The rebound a fortunate one, deflecting straight back into Borrello before finding its way into the net. The goal handing the home side a 1-0 advantage in the 26th minute.
The Mariners begun to find their rhythm shortly after, starting to have our fair share of possession. Multiple corners demonstrated the change in momentum, with Cummings having a close-range effort before Silvera had our best chance of the match to date to end the first half.
His shot from range a thunderbolt, unfortunately rising just above the crossbar before sailing into the crowd. That chance the last major one for either side before the break, with the match well and truly still up for grabs.
The second 45 minutes got off to the worst possible start for the Wanderers, with their captain Marcelo handed his marching orders. With the ball rolling out towards the Mariners bench the Brazilian left the ground feet, lunging with both feet raised towards Storm Roux.
The Wanderer connecting with studs to Roux’s ankles, given a straight red card in the 52nd minute. After being reviewed by VAR the decision was upheld, with the Mariners having the one-man advantage.
An equaliser almost came for the Mariners shortly after, with Roux unleashing from the right corner of the box. His strike requiring a smart save from Lawrence Thomas, palming it over the crossbar and out for a corner.
With the Wanderers camped in their own half and totally against the run of play Western Sydney did score their second with a counterattack, finding some free space in the box.
Calem Nieuwenhof bringing the ball down on the 18-yard line, before passing it across to Romain Amalfitano who was unmarked to tap it in in the 60th minute to double the home sides lead.
Soon after it was down to 10 on 10, with Beni Nkololo sent from the field. Off the back of a corner that was deflected straight into the hands of Thomas, the winger was held by Wanderers centre back Tomi Mrcela while trying to drop in defence.
The Frenchman reacting by striking the defender with his elbow in the chest, Nkololo sent off in the 64thminute.
Within 20 minutes of the second goal the Mariners used all five substitutions, with Duarte given his A-League debut, and Christian Theoharous again looking incredibly dangerous against tired legs.
With both sides down a man the Mariners continued to press, having the lion’s share of possession. Chances came and went without the final product, with Jason Cummings having an opportunity to pull one back for us in the 88th minute.
It was Theoharous who split the Wanderers defence open with a dangerous run, putting in a rising cross that beat the outstretched leg of Mrcela. Cummings unable to quite direct it goalward, going out for a goal kick.
Theoharous again made an impact only two minutes later, finding space outside the penalty area. His strike requiring a smart save from Thomas, the shot the last of meaning for the match as it ended 2-0 to the home side.
The Mariners will look to immediately bounce back next weekend in Mudgee, as we take on Macarthur Bulls next Saturday at Glen Willow Stadium. Tickets and bus packages are still available for that match.