The Central Coast Mariners have secured an impressive victory on Friday night, defeating Macarthur FC 2-1 at Campbelltown Stadium.
A dominant first half and a hard fought second rounded out the result, as the side overcame a travel delay, a strong opponent and some controversial decisions to secure the three points.
The result and the match was dedicated to the life of James Edds, who tragically passed away after the car he was travelling in was hit by a drunk driver. The entire Mariners squad wore black arm bands as a tribute.
The Mariners got off to the best possible start after just four minutes, with Marco Tulio pouncing on a Macarthur defensive error to give us the lead.
The definition of a coast-to-coast goal, the ball starting in our defensive third before eventually finding the in-form Brazilian.
The striker dribbling 20 metres before calmly converting from close range, putting it past Filip Kurto to give us a 1-0 lead in the 4th minute.
Just six minutes later Beni Nkololo almost got our second after a brilliant run from Sammy Silvera, finding Tulio inside the box. The striker passing to the Frenchman who was running onto the ball, forcing a sharp safe from Kurto.
After a back and forth fifteen minutes the Mariners did eventually get their second, with Jason Cummings scoring a well-earned goal. Silvera was the mastermind behind the play, squeezing the ball through a narrow gap to find the Socceroo.
The strikers first effort blocked before deflecting back to him, his second chance hit as sweet as a peach, firing it into the bottom corner past the outstretched hands of Kurto. The goal handing us a 2-0 lead in the 26thminute, no less than we deserved.
Cummings nearly had his brace only five minutes later, with Harry Steele playing a delightful ball into the area. Our striker finding himself in some clear space near the penalty spot, getting a solid connection on the cross.
His shot parried over by Kurto, with the Mariners knocking on the door of a third and potentially game sealing goal.
A Sammy Silvera strike in the 36th minute from outside the area was the last meaningful effort for either side of the first half, his shot going just wide before both sides went to the sheds.
The half time substitute of Daniel Arzani made life uncomfortable for the Mariners early in the second period, with the young winger looking dangerous. Brain Kaltak and Nectar Triantis did well to control him for a majority of the match, mostly limiting him to half chances from range.
Ultimately the attacker did do enough to get his side back in the game, coming off a curling corner from Jed Drew. His cross directed goalward by an Arzani flick, with Matt Millar converting from close range in the 57thminute. The goal pulling the Mariners lead back to one with just over 30 minutes left.
With Macarthur starting to have the run of play, big moments from Danny Vukovic and the back four kept our lead intact. A smart save off Jake Hollman in the sixtieth was followed by an even better one just four minutes later.
Drew finding free space in the box unmarked, getting a solid shot off that was heading goalward. Vukovic making himself big to save our advantage, his left leg deflecting the ball wide.
From then the match begun to open up, with both sides making numerous substitutions in the hunt for three points. Challenges that seemed to be fouls were not called as both teams fed off the counter, with the ball going from end to end regularly.
Both Paul Ayongo and Cummings had chances to put the game to bed after breaking away from Macarthur’s defensive line, with one on one saves from Kurto keeping them in the match.
With the game on the line Michael Ruhs was played through perfectly with the striker bounding goalward, seemingly pushed over as he was looking to get a shot off. This was deemed to not be a penalty, as was a similar challenge on Ayongo just minutes later.
With five minutes of stoppage time, the Mariners held on, securing a hard fought and well-deserved victory. The result our second win from two matches against Sydney sides away from home, seeing us finish in second place for another round.
We now look to continue our momentum as we head over the ditch to face Wellington Phoenix next Sunday, before we host Western Sydney Wanderers in another crucial Isuzu UTE A-League men’s match on Saturday January 28th.