The Central Coast Mariners played their first pre-season match under Head Coach Nick Montgomery against Western Sydney Wanderers at Wanderers Football Park on Saturday 23rd October.
It was the perfect opportunity to get minutes into legs in what turned out to be very hot conditions in Western Sydney and the match started in a competitive manner with both sides testing each other out early on.
Head Coach Nick Montgomery handed first Mariners minutes to Yaren Sozer, Storm Roux, Jacob Farrell, Béni Nkololo and Cy Goddard in the starting XI and it was Roux and Goddard on the right that caused early problems with some dangerous deliveries into the Wanderers box.
After some good forward pressure from Marco Ureña and Matt Simon, a loose back pass to Margush in the Wanderers goal was capitalised on by Simon and in the process, was brought down, with the referee immediately pointing to the spot.
Oli Bozanic stepped up to take the penalty but unfortunately it crashed off the upright with Margush well beaten. Following this, the momentum swung to the hosts, where first time Mariners goalkeeper Yaren Sozer had to work hard to keep the score level, as Mark Birighitti was absent on paternity duties.
Early in the second half the Wanderers broke the deadlock. Undeterred, the Mariners kept going and saw Nisbet and Nkololo combine well throughout.
On the hour mark, Bozanic set his sights on the Wanderers goal, firing just wide from distance. With the sun beaming down, both coaches rang the changes, with Montgomery giving youth players some valuable match minutes in sweltering conditions.
Matt Hatch and Damian Tsekenis created chances late on, however the match finished 2-0 in what will be pivotal experience in the lead up to the Izuzu UTE A-League season.
Commenting on the match, Nick Montgomery said.
“It was a great run out for the boys against a quality A-League opponent in Western Sydney, in what turned into some testing conditions.”
“We played a lot of young players today including the likes of Jacob Farrell and Harry Steele, both born in 2002 and products of the Central Coast Mariners academy, who have not yet featured in the A-League, plus the new recruits who performed really well against an experienced Wanderers side. These minutes will be really valuable for their development” Montgomery said.
“We will use this match as a great learning opportunity as we move through our pre-season preparations and onto our FFA Cup match and with Nicolai [Muller} and Birraz [Mark Birighitti] returning to the squad next week, I am happy with where we are at.”