Mariners take three points in Tarneit after Theoharous thunderbolt

Central Coast Mariners ensured they remained top of the Isuzu UTE A-League on Saturday thanks to a 2-0 win over Western United in Tarneit.

The Mariners made their first ever trip to Western’s brand new facility and left with all three points thanks to Max Balard’s second goal in three games and a thunderous strike from Christian Theoharous.

Mark Jackson made two changes to the side that started last weekend’s table-topping victory over Wellington Phoenix, bringing in Harry Steele and Jing Reec for Jacob Farrell and Alou Kuol, who are unavailable as they are away with the Olyroos.

Brian Kaltak made his 50th appearance for the club, a clean sheet the perfect way to mark the special occasion for the Brick Wall of Gosford.

Pre-match, Jackson said his side would approach the game as another ‘top-of-the-table clash’ due to Western’s place in the form table and despite now being out of the fun for finals, the 11th placed club would certainly not be a pushover.

In the first half, Michael Ruhs’ powerful shot was well blocked by Dan Hall and Khoder Kaddour’s deflected cross flashed agonisingly across the face of the Mariners goal, whilst Josh Nisbet had our best effort at the other end, shooting narrowly wide.

The Mariners had to wait until the 51st minute for their opening goal, pouncing on a Western error in possession in their own half, Nisbet teed-up midfield partner Balard who coolly slotted home.

After waiting 74 games for his first Isuzu UTE A-League goal, Balard now has two in his last three whilst partner-in-crime Nisbet edges further clear at the top of the assists chart with his ninth of the season.

It could have been two minutes later after a flowing move ended with Storm Roux crossing to the back post where Angel Torres arrived onto the ball but blasted wide.

Riku Danzaki squandered the best chance Western would get to equalise, scuffing his shot wide after Lachlan Wales’ cross on 67 minutes.

Torres then went within inches of his 14th A-League goal of the season, smashing the ball off the underside of the crossbar after collecting Ryan Edmondson’s cross at the back post, but the second would come shortly after for the Mariners and in some style.

Theoharous picked up the ball in a pocket of space before working space for a shot and firing an absolute stunner from 25 yards in off the post, his third goal of the season.

The win for the Mariners sees us maintain pole position in the race for the Premier Plate, now with two games remaining.

Jackson and the team now head to Kyrgyzstan for the first leg of our AFC Cup Inter-Zonal Final clash with Abdysh Ata-Kant, before returning home for the final home game of the regular Isuzu UTE A-League season, against Adelaide United next Sunday (3pm).

That game has since been made a double header, after Emily Husband’s Liberty A-League side advanced through their Elimination Final with Melbourne Victory on Sunday evening, to set up a Semi-Final first leg tie with Sydney FC at Our Paradise, which will follow the Adelaide game on April 21st.