A late penalty decided by the Video Assistant Referee brought the Central Coast Mariners undone, as they fell 2-1 to Western Sydney Wanderers at Bankwest Stadium on Saturday night.
It was an even start but there were good signs for the visitors as they repelled a wave of Wanderers attacks before beginning to win much of the ball and just after the half hour mark Milan Djuric put the Mariners ahead in stunning fashion on his Hyundai A-League debut.
Working in from the left Jordan Murray fought through a challenge before the ball fell to the Serbian and he let fly with a stunning effort that took a slight deflection before richoeting off the underside of the crossbar and in.
The lead lasted only five minutes though, when Mitch Duke found space from a corner to sneak a header inside the near post and restore parity.
There was controversy on the stroke of half-time when Daniel Georgievski flew through the feet of Murray in front of the Mariners’ bench, but the Wanderers man was only issued a yellow card and the game remained level in both score and players as the half-time whistle went.
The second half began as a tight affair but there were no clear cut chances at either end in the opening exchanges.
Sam Silvera was introduced by Alen Stajcic to provide a spark and did just that as the Mariners looked to get out on the counter attack, however Daniel Lopar kept out a big chance from Jordan Murray before the striker was denied by a block on another occasion.
With 13 minutes to play the Wanderers appealed for handball off a low cross and after an extended passage of play, a penalty was awarded via the Video Assistant Referee and Duke made no mistake to score his second goal and put the Wanderers ahead inside the final 10.
Despite a good passage of sustained pressure in the dying moments it was not to be for Stajcic’s men and the Wanderers secured the three points.
Attention for the Mariners now turns to Saturday’s monster #F3Derby against the Newcastle Jets at Central Coast Stadium.