The Central Coast Mariners have secured a statement win over Macarthur FC on Saturday afternoon, coming away with a 4-1 victory at Glen Willow Stadium in Mudgee.
Undermanned due to injury, suspension and national team duty, the young Mariners squad showed belief throughout the match to take the three points.
After going into the break with the scores all level the Central Coast dominated the second 45 minutes, scoring three goals before the 65th minute to secure the victory.
The win all the more special for youngster Zac Zoricich, with the academy player making his A-League Men’s debut after coming on in the 83rd minute.
The defender one of five current academy members on the bench who brought an instant spark when coming on during the second half.
They were some of the 12 outfield players on the Mariners card aged under 23, with 11 making an appearance in the game and nine former or current academy members.
The match did start in the best possible way for our opponent’s, with Macarthur getting on the scoreboard after 11 minutes. Daniel Arzani and Daniel De Silva linking up, with the former crossing the ball in from just outside the penalty area.
De Silva the first to pounce on it just metres out, poking it past Danny Vukovic to hand the away side the first goal of the game.
From then the Mariners begun to have the better chances, with Christian Theoharous a constant threat down the right-hand side of the pitch. The winger dazzling Macarthur defenders with his dribbling, contributing greatly to our opening goal.
Theoharous collecting the ball on the right of the goal outside the penalty area, switching the play over to an overlapping James McGarry. The left back taking a few touches before unleashing a rocket, clipping the underside of the crossbar before smacking into the back of the net.
The goal is McGarry’s second in five games so far this season for the club, hitting the ground running since joining in February. The strike levelling the scores at in the 30th minute, exactly what the Mariners deserved.
Breaking on the counter, Macarthur had an opportunity to regain the lead, with Arzani finding Jake Hollmam six yards out. The midfielder rounding Vukovic in goal before hitting his open shot into the side netting.
The Mariners did have the final chances of the half, with Filip Kurto the only thing standing in the way of the Central Coast taking a lead into half time.
Theoharous almost getting on the scoreboard, cutting it onto his left before dribbling around the face of Macarthur’s defenders.
The winger curling a left footed shot goalward, with only the fingertips of Kurto denying him a much-deserved goal. That stop enough to keep the Mariners out until the break, with the home side taking the momentum into the sheds.
Late chances from the first half turned into goals to begin the second, with the Mariners running riot over the opening 20 minutes. Our second goal of the match coming in the 47th minute, with Max Balard making a driving run into the penalty area.
The midfielder cutting it across to Tulio, with the Brazilian touching it off to Cummings. Our Socceroos striker slotting it into the bottom right corner, giving us the 2-1 lead.
Three minutes later it was Christian Theoharous who again came up with a massive play contributing to a goal, with the winger collecting the ball just over the halfway line.
He played a first touch pass across the field to Marco Tulio in space, with the striker picking out the bottom left corner from outside the box. The team running over to celebrate with the travelling fans behind the goal, 3-1 up in the 51st minute.
Continuing his stellar performance, Balard again drove into the box, this time taking a shot on his first touch. While it was saved, he was taken out in the process by a Macarthur defender, with the referee pointing to the spot.
Cummings stepped up to take the penalty, looking for his third brace in six matches. After a stutter step at the top of his mark the striker confidently dispatched the ball into the back of the net, picking out the top right corner while Kurto could only watch. Central Coast 4-1 up in the 63rd minute, essentially sealing the three points.
Montgomery soon turned to his youthful bench, with the likes of Nicholas Duarte, Sasha Kuzevski, James Bayliss and debutant Zac Zoricich all playing meaningful minutes.
The youngsters almost contributing to a fifth Mariners goal on numerous occasions, with only Kurto standing in the way. Fellow substitute Josh Nisbet having the best chance of the lot, with his strike hitting off the Polish goalkeeper from close range as it was sailing goalward.
The match ending as a 4-1 win for the Mariners, securing an important victory in front of a pleasing crowd at Glen Willow Stadium. The Central Coast’s unbeaten run at the ground continues, as the side push up to third on the A-League Men’s ladder.
With an attitude of belief filling the club and changing room the Mariners now head down to face Melbourne Victory next weekend, with three vital points up for grabs on our hunt for a top two finish.