The Central Coast Mariners have come away with an impressive 2-1 win on Saturday evening, coming out victorious against Sydney FC at Industree Group Stadium.
After conceding an early goal, the Mariners took the ascendency shortly after, scoring twice before half time to go into the break with the lead.
Resolute defending and some nice counter attacking play saw the Mariners hold out to secure the victory, despite eight minutes of stoppage time being played to conclude the game.
The match also marked two special occasions, the first being Garang Kuol’s first A-League men’s start. The winger getting an assist in a pleasing performance, playing almost seventy minutes.
Academy graduate and scholarship recipient Sasha Kuzevski also made his professional debut, providing a bolt of energy in the final ten minutes of the match.
It was a back-and-forth opening period to the match, with both Luke Brattan and Marco Tulio hitting the post for the respective sides.
Only a minute after our Brazlian hit the upright, Sydney FC opened the scoring with a scrappy goal. Robert Mak finding space down the right-hand side, forcing Danny Vukovic to make a diving save.
The ball parrying out to Paulo Retre who slotted it home to hand his side a 1-0 lead in the 11th minute.
After having multiple half chances to equalise it took the Mariners until the 34th minute to strike back, with a moment of magic from youngster Garang Kuol who picked out Marco Tulio with an inch perfect cross.
The Brazilian getting a well-deserved first goal for the Mariners, his headed effort drawing the scores level.
One soon became two just minutes later, with Dan Hall scoring his second ever A-League goal.
Beni Nkololo whipping in a dangerous corner which illuded Sydney goalkeeper Andrew Redmayne, finding the feet of Brian Kaltak.
The Vanuatu international putting the ball back into the six-yard area, his defensive partner outleaping three Sydney defenders to hand us the lead in the 39th minute.
A tense final five minutes saw both sides pushing to add another before the break, neither able to as the teams went to the sheds with it all to play for.
Sydney FC had the first major chance of the second half, with Joe Lolley finding space down the right-hand side of the box. The Englishman cutting the ball back to Rhyan Grant, the defender smashing it into the outside of the net in the 55th minute.
After continued pressure the Mariners had the next opportunity to extend our lead, Kuol demonstrating his mesmerising dribbling to beat multiple Sydney defenders.
The youngster hitting it just wide, his final action of the game before being substituted to a standing ovation from the home crowd.
After resolute defending from the entire Mariners backline, Vukovic was required to intervene, pulling out a smart save in the 79th minute. Luke Brattan running into the box before firing low, a strong hand from our goalkeeper all that denied him.
Just a minute later he would be needed again, Lolley blasting from range. Vukovic never flustered, securing his fizzing shot in a routine save for the experienced shot stopper.
The Mariners almost sealed the deal as Samuel Silvera and the entire Central Coast forward line drove on the counter, Ruhs collecting the ball and firing. His chance never quite being under control, getting blocked before finding the goal.
Tensions soon flared to end the game after some contentious refereeing decisions, resulting in eight additional minutes after regulation time. The Mariners holding firm, taking an incredibly valuable three points away from a tough fixture in blustery conditions.
The Central Coast now look towards Wednesday’s catch up round against the Newcastle Jets, keen to get revenge for last weekend. Momentum now on our side, ready to head into Christmas with the gift of another three points.