Mariners secure hard fought point in epic encounter against City

The Central Coast Mariners have had to settle for a point after an incredible match at Our Paradise on Saturday night, drawing 1-all with Melbourne City. 

In one of the A-League games of the season played in front of 10,000 loud and proud Mariners fans, a late Josh Nisbet goal drew the Mariners level after 75 minutes of back-and-forth action. 

In Mariners head coach Nick Montgomery’s 50th A-League Men’s game in charge, a stunning performance from Danny Vukovic in goal kept the away side out for the majority of the match, while Tom Glover was also strong for Melbourne City. 

Despite the Central Coast pushing for a late winner, it was not meant to be, with the point meaning that a loss for Wellington tomorrow against Brisbane will secure the side a home final. 

It was the Central Coast Mariners who almost got off to the ideal start, with Brian Kaltak trading defending for attacking. The Vanuatu international taking a touch before unleashing an effort from 35 yards out in the 5thminute.

The strike narrowly missed the outside of the upright, with Glover diving to his right as he watched the ball sail by. 

The match picked up a frantic pace from then, with both sides regularly pushing quickly when in possession. James McGarry having the Mariners next chance of meaning, with the left back collecting the ball outside the penalty area. 

After some lovely footwork and dribbling the New Zealand international found some space, loading up for a strike. His effort pushing past the goal and out for a goal kick, another warning shot for the away side. 

Sammy Silvera had his first effort from range in the 27th minute, with his shot fizzing wide as the Mariners continued to pepper Melbourne City’s goal. The away side did have chances of their own, with Danny Vukovic being required on multiple occasions to produce stunning saves. 

His first two of the night coming after the 28th minute, with our captain first palming a Melbourne City shot wide from close range. 

Vukovic was again called into action shortly after, when Jamie Maclaren found a free header in the six-yard box. The Socceroos striker directing it goalward before a stunning reflex stop from Vukovic kept it out, as the vocal crowd sat on the edge of their seats. 

With both sides pressing and pushing to find the go-ahead goal, the Mariners almost found it through Beni Nkololo. The Frenchman hitting a snapshot after taking a touch and turning, with the ball seemingly destined for the bottom corner. 

It was ultimately not meant to be, with Glover diving across well to his left to pluck the ball just wide and out for a corner kick. 

The Mariners did think that they had found the lead in the first minute of stoppage time, with Marco Tulio scoring a stunning long range, first touch effort. It came after the assistant referee had raised their flag earlier in the play, before raising it again after the shot had gone in. 

After being looked at by VAR it was deemed that Tulio was marginally offside when he collected the ball across the halfway line, with the goal disallowed. That effort the final chance before the halftime break, with the scores level at nil-all. 

In a similar fashion to the first half the Central Coast Mariners almost got off to the ideal start, with Glover again thwarting a promising attack for the home side. SIlvera getting to the by-line in the 46th minute before whipping in a deep cross, finding Cummings at the back post. 

The Socceroo leaping over his defender to head the ball goalward, with the City shot stopper pulling off a similar stop to that of Vukovic’s in the first half. 

Max Balard had the games next chance in the 52nd minute, with the midfielder striking the ball on his first touch, wrong footing Glover. The goalkeeper still got to the ball to palm it away, with Nkololo following through. The winger judged to have fouled Glover as he looked to collect the rebound, with VAR deeming that he had gotten control of the ball first. 

Despite the early second half pressure Melbourne City did get the game’s first goal through Jordan Bos. The defender taking a touch before cutting back in on his right, firing a shot into the top right corner. The away side taking a 1-0 lead in the 63rd minute. 

From then the Mariners begun to relentlessly pressure the Melbourne City goal, as Nick Montgomery looked to his substitutes for an equaliser. Jacob Farrell, Harry Steele and Christian Theoharous all coming into the match, with the latter creating a chance just moments after. 

The winger picking out Nkololo with a cutback across goal, the Frenchman unable to get enough purchase on the shot as it fell into the hands of Glover. 

Eventually the consistent pressure was rewarded for the Mariners, with fan-favourite and midfield maestro Josh Nisbet scoring in his second consecutive home match. 

Our number four collecting the ball forty yards out from goal, dribbling through multiple City defenders. 

The midfielder making it to just inside the penalty area before hitting a shot with the outside of his boot, which deflected off a Melbourne defender. The ball dribbling into the back of the net as all Glover could do was watch, levelling the scores in the 78th minute. 

As had been the case for the entire match both sides continued to press for another goal, with three points all that was on the mind for the two teams. 

The Mariners having the next chance on goal through substitute Moresche, with the Brazilian first unable to get a solid connection on a low cross from Brian Kaltak. The rebound sailing high and into the path of the striker again, with him this time heading it low as Glover made a smart save. 

Moresche had another chance to give us the lead in the 90th minute, with the striker getting on the end of a lovely weighted cross by Nisbet. After finding a few inches of room away from his defender, the Brazilian got a clean connection with his head, directing the ball into the hands of the on waiting Glover. 

The final five minutes of stoppage time saw both teams looking for a winner, with Melbourne having two strong chances, only to be denied by Vukovic. The first from Bos in the 93rd minute, with the captain palming the fizzing shot over the crossbar. 

Arguably his most important save coming two minutes later, as Jamie Maclaren found some space in the Mariners penalty area. The former Socceroo positioning himself perfectly to cut off the angle for the City striker, getting enough of his body behind it to push it wide for a corner. 

That ultimately was the last chance of meaning for either side, bringing to conclusion an epic battle between two of the competition heavyweights at Industree Group Stadium. The final score 1-all, as the 10,000 plus fans left having watched an incredible encounter. 

The Mariners now turn their attention to next Saturday, as we take on Newcastle Jets at McDonald Jones Stadium in the third and final F3 Derby of the season. The Mariners will then round out the regular season with a trip to Adelaide.