The Central Coast Mariners have been defeated in heart breaking fashion on Sunday afternoon at Central Coast Stadium, going down 3-2 to a last-minute winner against Macarthur FC.
It was a tough start to the match for the Mariners, trailing 1-0 early before being reduced to 10 men in controversial fashion shortly after.
Despite conceding within minutes of the second half through a routine set piece, the side fought back, showing the Mariners signature won’t back down attitude.
Completely against the run of play Macarthur scored a winner in the final seconds of the match, handing the Central Coast a tough loss.
Despite the Mariners looking the stronger of the two sides in the opening minutes, it was Macarthur who scored the first of the afternoon after a defensive mishap in the Central Coast backline.
Under pressure from a pressing Macarthur attack, Nectar Triantis played the ball across the face of goal to Danny Vukovic, with the goalkeeper struggling to take control of the pass.
Al Hassan Toure took full advantage, slotting the loose ball into the net in the 14th minute to hand the away side a 1-0 lead.
With the game firmly in the balance and the Mariners pushing for an equaliser, Lachlan Rose found some room on the right of the field, going to ground after shoulder to shoulder contact from Brian Kaltak in the 30th minute.
The Vanuatu international was sent off for denying an obvious goalscoring opportunity, with VAR deeming that there was no clear and obvious error, allowing the decision to stand.
Both sides continued to push for another goal, with the Mariners controlling the tempo of the game despite being a man down.
Neither side made the most of their opportunities for the remainder of the half, with both teams heading into the sheds with the match firmly in the balance.
Macarthur doubled their advantage only two minutes into the second half, with Jonathan Aspropotamitis flying high from a corner to head it home. His effort beating the Mariners defence, giving the away side the 2-0 advantage in the 47th minute.
From then the Mariners begun to change the tempo of the game, with the Central Coast crowd feeling that another comeback was certainly on the cards. Both Garang Kuol and Sammy Silvera entered the match in the 55th minute, with the duo making immediate impacts.
Silvera displayed his damaging dribbling only moments after coming on, weaving into the Macarthur box before being chopped down. Despite Cummings finishing the play off and scoring, the goal was ruled out, with the Mariners instead awarded a penalty.
Cummings stepped up to convert from the spot, only to be denied by a diving Nicholas Suman in the Macarthur goal.
The Mariners were to be awarded yet another penalty only moments later, with it this time coming from fellow substitute Garang Kuol.
The youngster was taken out on the edge of the area, with the referee this time waiting until there was clearly no advantage before pointing to the spot.
Full of confidence after his World Cup selection, the forward blasted it home, putting the Mariners firmly back in the contest in the 65th minute.
One Garang Kuol goal soon became two, with his second all the more sensational. After a lovely cross from Jacob Farrell, Kuol took a splendid touch, giving himself room before unleashing.
His effort blasting into the roof of the net from an extremely tight angle, drawing the scores level with just under 20 minutes remaining.
The Mariners were unable to ice the game despite having several chances, with efforts from numerous players only marginally missing the target.
Completely against the run of play Macarthur scored the winner in the dying minutes, coming after the Mariners committed numbers forward for a final chance to win.
A long ball to Jed Drew found him in free space, with Thomas Aquilina the final Mariners defender looking to deny the away side. Despite his best effort he could not quite make up the ground, with the Macarthur forward slotting it past Vukovic to hand them the victory.
Despite the loss there were many positives to come out of the match for the Mariners, with the lions share of possession, nearly double the shots and fighting back against the odds to a position where they deserved the three points.
Instead, we head to the World Cup break sitting in fifth with a game still in hand, consistently demonstrating why we are one of the most exciting teams in the competition.
The side now go to Vanuatu for a tour this week, while Cummings, Vukovic and Kuol all head to Qatar to take on the world.
The Mariners will be back in action on December 11th when the league recommences, facing our rivals Newcastle Jets in the F3 derby.