Mariners fall to Melbourne City in scorching conditions

The Central Coast Mariners have fallen to a tight 1-0 defeat at the hands of Melbourne City, ending our recent run of victories on Tuesday afternoon at AAMI Park. 

In incredibly hot conditions, with temperatures reaching up to 37 degrees throughout the match, the Mariners were automatically at a disadvantage when midfielder Josh Nisbet had to withdraw moments before kick-off due to illness. 

The youngster joining fellow midfield partner Max Balard on the sideline, with Harry Steele and Nectar Triantis given the responsibility if holding down the centre third. 

It was Melbourne City who were able to take the ascendancy early, having the lions share of the ball for the opening 20 minutes. 

A Jamie Maclaren shot from close range their first effort on goal, Danny Vukovic standing tall in the 15th minute to keep the scores level. 

Eight minutes later our goalkeeper was called upon again, blocking a blasted effort from Mat Leckie just outside the six-yard box. 

Vukovic unfortunately couldn’t stop their third attempt on target, with Richard van der Venne finding some room on the left-hand side. 

After pushing past Dan Hall, the midfielder cut the ball directly across goal, finding Maclaren six yards out. Vukovic no hope of saving from close range, City gaining the lead in the 39th minute. 

In the first minute of stoppage time van der Venne and Hall were again involved together, with the midfielder falling inside the box after a challenge from the young defender. 

The referee pointing to the spot, with VAR rulling the main infringement to have taken place inside the area. 

Maclaren was the man to step up for City, only to be denied by a heroic Vukovic save. The experienced shot stopper diving well to his right, parrying the ball out before Hall cleared it out. 

That was the last play of meaning in the first half, with the Mariners firmly still in the contest at the break. 

Central Coast looked the most likely immediately after the break, with Tulio getting a pleasing shot off just three minutes into the second half. His effort saved by Glover, acting as a warning side of more to come. 

The Mariners had numerous half chances over the following 20 minutes, going close without ever quite finding the back of the net. With temperatures rising head coach Nick Montgomery looked to our youthful bench, bringing on Kuol, Kuzevski and Ruhs to make a difference. 

The later almost immediately did, finding space after an exquisite ball from Hall. The striker running onto it well, drilling a low shot that was narrowly saved by Glover. The rebound only just blocked before Ruhs could run through and convert, the chance our best of the match. 

With time running out and exhaustion kicking in, Cameron Windust and Dor Jok were brought on, tasked with finding the equaliser. 

Ultimately neither was able to, the seven minutes of stoppage time elapsing, City coming away with the narrow 1-0 win in extreme conditions.

Full focus now turns to our New Year’s Eve fixture against Melbourne Victory on Saturday night.