Milestones galore as Mariners move top with Macarthur masterclass

Central Coast Mariners made it seven consecutive wins in all competitions, with a comprehensive 3-0 victory over Macarthur at Campbelltown.

It was a win of many milestones, both for the club and individuals, as the club hit top spot in the Isuzu UTE A-League for the first time since November 2021, whilst our captain Danny Vukovic kept his 100th A-League clean sheet, becoming the first goalkeeper in the league’s history to hit that milestone.

There were also landmark goals for Ronald Barcellos and Ryan Edmondson, as the two January arrivals netted their firsts in the competition, after Josh Nisbet had opened the scoring with his second goals in two weeks.

Mikael Doka also continued his fantastic form of late, setting up Nisbet and Edmondson’s strikes, making that eight goal contributions (4G 4A) in his last six games.

Mark Jackson made two changes from the side that beat Odisha FC in the AFC Cup Inter-Zonal Semi-Final first leg on Thursday, as Barcellos came in for his first A-League start in place of Storm Roux, and Edmondson returned to the starting 11 in place of Jing Reec.

The Mariners dominated from minute one, full of energy despite a short turnaround. Macarthur, who had had a nine-day break from their last outing, were limited to just three shots on target in the whole game, all of which came from outside the box.

At the other end, the Mariners had 14 shots, nine of which were on target, as Bulls’ keeper Filip Kurto almost single-handedly kept the scoreline respectable for his side in the second half.

Six minutes in, Jacob Farrell saw a fierce strike from range blocked but the Mariners wouldn’t have to wait much longer for an opener as Nisbet curled a beauty into the top corner on eight minutes. After waiting 20 games for his first of the season, our midfield maestro now has two in two.

Just over ten minutes later it was two, some strong work from Brad Tapp helped Nisbet claim his seventh A-League assist of the season, sliding it through the legs of Matt Jurman to find Barcellos who finished brilliantly under pressure in the box.

The Mariners had to be alert before the break, Brian Kaltak defending brilliantly to dispossess Uli Davila in the box, after a neat move from the hosts saw them make a rare entry into the Mariners box.

Two minutes into the second half, Angel Torres won a penalty for the Mariners as his shot was charged down by the hand of Jurman, but Kurto saved the Colombian’s effort from the spot.

That wouldn’t affect the Mariners though and minutes later it would be three, a superb counter attack led by the man in form Doka, before an inch perfect pass found Edmondson in the box and he finished brilliantly into the top corner.

Kurto then made two great saves in quick succession, firstly denying Miguel Di Pizio from close range after Doka’s low cross and then made almost an identical stop from Dan Hall after the Mariners worked the resulting corner neatly.

Kurto also saved well down low to his left to deny Nisbet, and on 88 minutes denied his opposite number an assist after Vukovic found Torres through on goal but Kurto did well to push the ball away as the Colombian tried to take it round him.

Vukovic was called into some routine action late on to preserve his 100th A-League clean sheet, saving low to his right from Davila’s free-kick and holding a speculative volley from Danny Da Silva, but it was a relatively untroubled afternoon for our captain as he hit an extraordinary milestone in the Isuzu UTE A-League.

The Mariners now travel to India for the second leg of our AFC Cup Inter-Zonal Semi-Final against Odisha FC and we return to A-League action on Saturday 30th March, as we make the trip to Allianz Stadium to take on Sydney FC.