The Central Coast Mariners suffered a second defeat away to league newcomers Western United, going down 6-2 at GMHBA Stadium in Geelong on Sunday.
Making two changes to the side that faced Sydney FC last time out, with Kye Rowles returning in the heart of defence as well as Jordan Murray upfront, Alen Stajcic’s side were keen to get revenge on the league’s newest team after a disappointing defeat in their last meeting.
The opening exchanges were equal with both sides having spells in possession before Besart Berisha opened the scoring after nine minutes.
The veteran striker found space in the area and rose highest to head home Alessandro Diamanti’s whipped free kick from the left.
The hosts lead lasted only a few minutes before Chris Harold scored his second goal in the Yellow & Navy of the Mariners.
A pass into Harold was flicked up onto the arm of Tomislav Uskok who was penalised for handball and a penalty was awarded, which Harold stepped up and sent fired home.
United regained their lead almost immediately when Max Burgess cut onto his right to fire home, and on the half hour mark he had a second, firing across Mark Birighitti from a tight angle.
The Western man had his hat-trick just before the break to extend the lead to three, capitalising on a deflected strike that hit the post to fire into an unguarded goal.
There was still time for the Mariners to strike back though, and they did just that with an acrobatic finish from Gianni Stensness.
After several corners for the Yellow & Navy went amiss it was the final one of the half that found Stensness free.
A looping defensive header dropped to the young midfielder who leapt to execute a perfect overhead kick which flew past Kurto into the bottom corner.
The second half followed the same pattern as the first with both sides looking capable of scoring going forward.
A delivery from Diamanti once again proved the Mariners undoing for the hosts fifth with Andrew Durante forcing the ball over the line despite Birighitti’s best efforts.
With just over 15 minutes left there was a nice moment for Mariners fans, as 19-year old forward Alou Kuol came on to make his Hyundai A-League debut in front of his family.
— Central Coast Mariners (@CCMariners) March 1, 2020
Birighitti was called into action before the final whistle to deny Connor Pain twice with some superb goalkeeping, but could not do anything when a whipped cross found Berisha for his second goal with time winding down.
The game concluded with Berisha grabbing his second and rounding off the scoring, dispatching Josh Risdon’s cross from close range.
The Mariners will look to snap the losing streak when they host Wellington Phoenix at home next Sunday, with the game marking a special occasion as the Pink Round for this season.