Central Coast Mariners 3 (Matt Simon 16', Alou Kuol 77', 81') def. Western United 2 (Tomislav Uskok 4', Besart Berisha 42')
Two goals in five minutes from substitute Alou Kuol led the Mariners to a comeback victory against Western United at a boisterous Central Coast Stadium on Wednesday night.
The sun was shining upon the hallowed Gosford turf but the Mariners defence was caught off guard early on, when Alessandro Diamanti’s free kick found Tomislav Uskok in the middle to give Western United the lead just four minutes in.
It didn’t take the home side long to respond however, Marco Ureña’s header from a Jack Clisby corner crashed off the upright and Wednesday’s milestone man, Matt Simon, thrashed home the equaliser off the underside of the bar.
The rest of the first half would pass without much incident outside a shot from Ureña that was saved well by United goalkeeper Filip Kurto, and an ongoing battle with Ruon Tongyik and Besart Berisha, which drew plenty of attention from the referee.
Berisha got the upper hand just before the half-time break, backing down Tongyik before turning and firing high into the net past Birighitti to give the visitors a lead at the break.
Jaden Casella was introduced at half-time for Michal Janota in the midfield as Alen Stajcic looked to change the game with substitutions once more, and it was a double substitution with 30 minutes to play that did exactly that.
Birthday boy Daniel Bouman was introduced alongside Kuol, with Mark Rudan bringing on pace through Dylan Pierias and Max Burgess just minutes later as Western looked to see out the game having already looked dangerous on the break.
It was Kuol who popped up for the equaliser with 13 minutes to play, peeling away from the pack at Danny DeSilva’s corner and nodding the ball back across Kurto to score.
Five minutes later it was the Mariners ahead as superb pressure on Western United forced a turnover out wide. Stefan Nigro rushed up on Max Burgess to win the ball and then played Bouman down the wing into space. The substitute delivered an inch perfect cross for Kuol and he beat Kurto at the near post with a diving header that sent the home crowd into raptures.
The Mariners held on in the final stages on for yet another three points, showing plenty of desire and resolve to win back-to-back home games having been down 2-1 at half time in both.
After three games in eight days, attention turns to a trip to Wollongong next weekend to face Wellington Phoenix once again.