Mariners fall to tough defeat against Newcastle

The Central Coast Mariners have fallen to a difficult 2-1 defeat on Sunday afternoon, going down to the Newcastle Jets at Industree Group Stadium. 

In an evenly contested match with limited chances the Jets were able to capitalise when it mattered, before the Mariners thought that they had an equalising goal late with just 20 minutes remaining.

Josh Nisbet’s bottom corner finish ruled out for a handball fifteen seconds earlier, leaving the Jets with three points on the road. 

The Mariners almost got off to the perfect start through Marco Tulio, with the Brazilian finding space inside the box in the opening 20 seconds. The winger unleashed a curling effort from range, only to be denied by the woodwork. 

Against the run of play the Jets scored the opener in the 12th minute, transitioning quickly on the counter. Trent Buhagiar getting on the end of a Daniel Stynes cutback across goal, converting from close range to hand the away side an early lead. 

Limited chances came for the remainder of the first half, with the ball struggling to find its way into either of the opposition thirds. The Mariners continuing to control possession, with Newcastle dangerous on the counter, only being thwarted by resolute Mariners defence. 

With a late Jason Cummings effort sailing narrowly over the woodwork, the Mariners found themselves 1-0 down at half time with work to do. 

The Central Coast got a deserved equaliser shortly after the break, returning Socceroo Cummings poking home the ball in a scrambled box in the 53rd minute. The chance coming from Tulio’s deflected effort, our striker making the most of the Jets inability to clear.

With the match falling back into an even rhythm as the Mariners pushed for the lead, the Jets again hit the front through a set piece. A corner finding the head of Beka Mikeltadze at the back post, the Georgian firing in his close-range effort in the 66th minute. 

With an array of Mariners substitutes on and momentum beginning to swing firmly in our favour, the Central Coast again had what looked to be a clear goal chalked out due to VAR intervention. 

Josh Nisbet collecting the ball outside the box from Tom Aquilina, passing it perfectly into the very bottom corner past the outstretched arms of Jack Duncan. With Mariners fans around the ground celebrating the referee was instructed to look at the VAR, eventually ruling the goal out. 

The decision being that several passes earlier Michael Ruhs had handled the ball, ultimately leaving the Mariners still chasing the match. 

Ruhs had one final chance to draw the scores level, with the substitute finding some excellent space down the right-hand side. The striker beating both his defender and the goalkeeper, his effort sailing just wide of the post. 

Despite dominating the final portion of the match, the Mariners were unable to score an equaliser, going down 2-1. 

After almost a month without A-League football and the squad only fully coming back together on Wednesday, the side will be far better for the run as we head into a busy period of football. 

All eyes now turn to an important Saturday afternoon match against Sydney FC next weekend, with the side keen to immediately bounce back heading into a congested late December period.