The Central Coast Mariners came from 2-0 down to defeat Melbourne City 3-2 in Gosford on Wednesday night in Matt Simon’s 200th A-League game for the Mariners.
On a milestone night it was the milestone man who played a key role, assisting Jaden Casella’s first ever A-League goal and scoring the second as the Mariners stormed over the top of a 10-man City outfit.
With the Mariners down Joshua Nisbet once again and resting skipper Oliver Bozanic, Daniel DeSilva’s second goal of the season proved to be the winner as the hosts clawed back into the match.
Marco Ureña and Michal Janota both made their starting debuts, with Casella inserted back into the starting lineup as Alen Stajcic rotated the squad after yet another short turnaround.
The Mariners started strong but a couple of chances were not put away, and City punished them 23 minutes in when Adrian Luna turned in a cross from close range. Eight minutes later the deficit was two goals, this time it was Jamie Maclaren as he was set free to poke the ball home past Mark Birighitti.
But four minutes before the break, the Mariners struck back. Gianni Stensness won a header from Tom Glover’s goal kick, and Simon held off two City players before nodding the ball towards DeSilva.
The return ball found Ureña to play a perfect quick ball in for Simon, and he had the poise to see Casella running into space for a tap in to cut the lead in half at the break.
Max Balard and Alou Kuol were introduced 10 minutes into the second half and two minutes later Simon won a penalty as Nathaniel Atkinson barged into him underneath a high ball.
There was never any doubt about the result as Simon stepped up and thrashed the ball home, and three minutes after that City were on their heels when Kuol forced Kerrin Stokes into a foul that saw him earn a second yellow card and his marching orders.
From there the home side pushed on, and it was DeSilva’s strike, worthy of winning any game, that proved the difference between the two sides.
The midfielder chased down the ball after losing it, before playing a one-two with Kuol, driving towards the area and rifling a drive past Glover and into the corner to send the home fans into raptures.
The final 10 minutes saw City have chances, but they could not convert as the Mariners returned to the summit of the A-League table.
Another short turnaround now awaits, with Western United visiting Central Coast Stadium on Sunday in Match Week 7 of the A-League.