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Defiant Mariners beaten by Brisbane at Suncorp

The Central Coast Mariners performed strongly at Suncorp on Friday night, but still fell to Brisbane Roar as Scott McDonald’s goal on the stroke of half time proved to be the difference.

The Mariners started strongly, disrupting Brisbane’s play and looking to get out on the break.

Milan Ðurić charged through the midfield and poked a ball through to Chris Harold who had his shot saved by Jamie Young, before the Serbian drove forward once more shortly afterwards and drew a save from Young himself with a stinging drive.

Ruon Tongyik shook up Brad Inman with a strong challenge as the Mariners established themselves in midfield, and shortly after had the best chance of the first half hour as they broke from the back.

Daniel DeSilva charged forward flanked by Jordan Murray and Lewis Miller before shooting with the outside of his boot, and the rebound from Young’s save was scooped over under pressure by Murray.

Mark Birighitti was called into action twice in quick succession to keep out the hosts, and just as it looked as though scores would be level at the break the Roar struck.

Scott McDonald tapped in Inman’s cross and while the linesman raised his flag, VAR intervened and overruled the decision and the goal stood.

Mirza Muratovic fired wide ten minutes in and 20 minutes in Alen Stajcic made his first changes as Jair and Sam Silvera came on for Murray and Harold, but it was Ziggy Gordon who made an impact next up as a great sliding challenge halted a Brisbane counter.

The two substitutes both conspired to cause problems and Jair won a free kick that Ðurić swung in invitingly, but Tom Aldred was able to head clear.

Mikey McGlinchey replaced Ðurić as time wound down, and Silvera was causing problems up front as first Aiden O’Neill and then Aldred both went in the book for increasingly late challenges on the young forward.

Silvera almost created a goal as he rode one tackle before driving into the area and crossing, only for the hosts to block for a corner and clear the set piece as they held out to the end.

Attentions for the Mariners now turn to next round, as they host Melbourne City for Friday Night Football at Central Coast Stadium.

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Hooper goal

Courtesy Wellington Phoenix website

The Wellington Phoenix have racked up three goals against the Mariners at Central Coast Stadium, beating the bottom-of-the-table side 3-1 in a dominating performance.

The match saw spectacular first-half goals – thanks to a pair of classy assists – for Liberato Cacace and Gary Hooper, with Jaushua Sotirio hammering home another on 80 minutes before Jair finally got the Mariners on the board in the final minutes.

The win, Wellington’s third in a row, keeps the Phoenix comfortably in the top four as they continue their fight the Finals. Meanwhile, the Mariners see their losing streak extended to eight games, as they remain at the bottom of the ladder with a league-high 14 losses.

The match kicked off with an early chance for Gary Hooper in the first two minutes, as he received a pass in the box from Liberato Cacace but was unable to get his shot off. Meanwhile the Mariners had their chances at goal; but attempts by Milan Duric and Chris Harold both landed safely in the hands of Wellington goalkeeper Stefan Marinovic.

Wellington’s first goal attempt at goal would be a successful one - a brilliant goal by Cacace on 18 minutes, taking a leading pass from Davila to slot home a goal from inside the box and put the Phoenix up 1-0. It was 19 year-old Cacace’s second straight match with a goal, as well as being his 50th match for the Phoenix – the youngest Wellington player ever reach this milestone.

The Mariners had another pair of opportunities that they couldn’t convert thanks to Marinovic, and then botched a free kick opportunity that went safely over the net.

On 30 minutes, the Phoenix struck again; a terrific pass by Reno Piscopo over the top of the defence to Hooper, who handily chipped it over Mariners goalkeeper Mark Birighitti into the goal. This gave the Phoenix two goals in their first three shots on goal as they went up 2-0, and also gave Hooper his fifth goal of the season.

Hooper Goal
Gary Hooper Scored His Fifth Goal Of The Hyundai A-League Season
A last-minute attempt by the Mariners saw Marinovic leaping into the air over ex-Phoenix midfielder Gianni Stensness, denying an opportunity on goal as they went into half-time safely up 2-0; a clinical Wellington side making their shots count and winning the possession battle.

The second half saw the Phoenix maintaining control and not pushing the ball too much, content to instead wait for good opportunities. A duel between Jair and Steven Taylor saw the latter make a stirling defensive play for the Phoenix, before Stensness had an opportunity to score but couldn’t control his header.

Wellington would get onto the scoreboard for the third time thanks to a pair of Phoenix substitutes; with Alex Rufer setting up Jaushua Sotirio for his third goal of the season and putting Wellington up 3-0.

A goal by Jair in the 89th minute put the Mariners on the scoreboard and denied Wellington an opportunity for a third straight clean sheet. Sotirio almost had a chance at a brace as he hammered home a goal past Birighitti, only to be ruled offside - the match ending 3-1 to the Phoenix.

In addition to the win, the Phoenix will be buoyed by their efficiency on offense – the club being on target with four out of six shots on goal, sinking three; their highest percentage of the season.

The Wellington Phoenix will next return home to Sky Stadium for their match against Melbourne Victory on 15 March; they will also be recognising the one-year anniversary of the Christchurch Mosque tragedy at this match. In addition this match will be the beginning of a gruelling stretch of three matches played in eight days - with subsequent away games against Sydney FC and the Newcastle Jets.

Wellington Phoenix Starting XI

1.Stefan MARINOVIC (gk), 3.Luke DEVERE, 5.Matti STEINMANN, 6.Tim PAYNE, 7.Reno PISCOPO, 8.Cameron DEVLIN, 9.David BALL, 10.Ulises DAVILA, 13.Liberato CACACE, 27.Steven TAYLOR (c), 88. Gary HOOPER

Central Coast Mariners Starting XI

1. Mark BIRIGHITTI (gk), 2.Ian Zygmunt GORDON, 3.Jack CLISBY, 4. Eunsun KIM, 7. Milan ÐURIĆ, 11.Daniel DESILVA, 15. Kye ROWLES, 18. Gianni STENSNESS, 24. Chris HAROLD, 26. Joshua NISBET, 27. Lewis MILLER

Wellington Phoenix Substitutes
69’ ON 11.Jaushua SOTIRIO OFF 7.Reno PISCOPO
76’ ON 14.Alex RUFER OFF 8.Cameron DEVLIN
79’ ON 21.Callum MCCOWATT OFF 10.Ulises DAVILA

Central Coast Mariners Substitutions
64’ ON 29.Jair BRITTO OFF 7. Milan ÐURIĆ
64’ ON 19.Matt SIMON OFF 24.Chris HAROLD
79’ ON Daniel DE SILVA OFF 17. Samuel SILVERA

Goals
18’ Liberato CACACE (Wellington Phoenix)
30’ Gary HOOPER (Wellington Phoenix)
80’ Jaushua SOTIRIO (Wellington Phoenix)
89’ Jair BRITTO (Central Coast Mariners)

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Josh Nisbet signs two-year senior deal to stay on the Coast

Joshua Nisbet has signed a two-year senior contract with the Central Coast Mariners, keeping him in Yellow & Navy until the end of the 2021/22 Hyundai A-League season.

The 20-year old midfielder has been at the club since January of 2017 and after debuting last season and signing a scholarship contract, has made himself a part of Alen Stajcic’s starting line-up in recent weeks.

Speaking ahead of Sunday’s clash with Wellington in the annual Pink Round, Nisbet said he was excited to lock in his next few years on the Coast.

“I was on a scholarship deal and got the call that they wanted to upgrade me for another two years,” he said.

“I’m so happy to be part of what Staj is doing here at the Mariners and I’m confident we can build this club back up in the next couple of years.”

As the smallest player in the league Nisbet has always battled first impressions and after working his way through the pecking order under Alen Stajcic, says he’s comfortable under the long-term boss.

“Every time a new coach comes in they’ve got their preferences and they know what they want to do, what they want to build, obviously as a player you find a balance between what you think you need to do and what the coach needs to do,” Nisbet said.

“I think I’ve found that balance and I think Staj agrees and that’s why I’ve signed this contract.”

“There can be a perception that being small doesn’t mean you’re athletic or physically good, so a lot of the time it can be used negatively.”

“There is usually a fair bit of doubt initially, and then after a while you slowly build trust and they start believing it’s not the case [that height impacts my game].”

Stajcic brought Nisbet on in the win against Western United back in Round 7 at Central Coast Stadium before some time out of the team, but has had the youngster starting all but one game since round 16.

“We’re all excited here for Josh to sign this deal and commit to what we’re doing here on the Central Coast,” Stajcic said.

“He’s worked hard to establish himself as an important member of our squad, and this is just reward for the effort he’s put in.”

“It’s an exciting time now where we’re locking in young players like him for the future and it’s a credit to the work done in our Academy that we have so many youngsters who are up to the standard of our league, and that youth production line is starting to shine through now.”

Nisbet will be available to speak to media ahead of Mariners training on Wednesday morning.

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Sydney FC Young Guns Deliver The Points In Gosford
(this page courtesy Sydney FC website)

Sydney FC 3 (Ninkovic 8’, Tilio 89’, Van der Saag 90’+1’) def. Central Coast 0

Sydney FC’s young guns Marco Tilio and Harry Van der Saag came off the bench to secure the three points against Central Coast Mariners and send the Sky Blues 13 points clear at the top of the Hyundai A-League.

McGowan Chance – 4’ – Brattan’s free-kick to the far post finds the head of Grant to nod back across and McGowan fires over with his left foot.
Ninkovic Goal – 8’ – Grant crosses to the far post where Miller fails to clear and Ninkovic is on hand to nudge the ball past Birighitti.
Caceres Chance – 18’ – Caceres is allowed to charge forward and strikes powerfully from range which the keeper fumbles but gathers at the second attempt.
Stensness Goal Disallowed - 45’ – A Mariners free kick on the left, won controversially, is headed home by Stensness but is ruled out for offside by the linesman; upheld by VAR.
Debut Tilio Goal – 89’ - Van der Saag breaks clear on the right and cuts the ball back to Tilio who takes a touch before slotting in low on his Hyundai A-League debut.
Van der Saag – 90’ + 1’ - A reversal of fortunes as Tilio feeds Van der Saag, who drives into a gap in the Mariners defence and smashes the ball into the top corner beyond Birighitti.

Sydney FC youngsters Marco Tilio and Harry Van der Saag were the heroes as the Sky Blues marched 13 points clear at the Hyundai A-League summit defeating the Central Coast Mariners 3-0.

Milos Ninkovic opened the scoring in the 8th minute latching onto a mistake by Miller in the Mariners back line to flick the ball past Birighitti.

Having played in Japan midweek the Sky Blues dug deep and defended well against a Mariners side who pressed forward in the second half.

With time running out Head Coach Steve Corica introduced the fresh legs of the young stars and they delivered setting up one another with a goal to help the Sky Blues ease through the final stages of the game.

All eyes now turn to Friday night’s big Sydney Derby against the Western Sydney Wanderers at Netstrata Jubilee Stadium.

Steve Corica: “I’m very pleased with the result, it’s been a tough week. I think the boys showed great character today. We defended well and kept another clean sheet.

“We wanted to make sure we came back and won this game. To get the three points is vital for us and we move forward again.

“You’ve got to dig deep in games like these. It just didn’t work out for us in Japan. To come back and get the win showed good character, and I’m very pleased for the young boys who scored too.

“Marco has been waiting a long time, he’s been looking really good in training. He’s got ability to run with the ball and has been banging them in in the Y-League. I’m very pleased for him and Harry.”

Sydney FC: 1. Andrew REDMAYNE (GK), 4. Alex WILKINSON, 6. Ryan McGOWAN, 8. Paulo RETRE, 9. Adam Le FONDRE, 10. Milos NINKOVIC, 11. Kosta BARBAROUSES (12. Trent BUHAGIAR 58’), 16. Joel KING, 17. Anthony CACERES (21. Harry Van Der SAAG 71’), 23. Rhyan GRANT, 26. Luke BRATTAN.

Subs Not Used: 20. Thomas HEWARD-BELLE, 2. Patrick FLOTTMANN, 3. Ben WARLAND, 24. Marco TILIO, 27. Jordan SWIBEL.

Yellow Cards: Retre 20’, Brattan 65’,

Red Cards: None.

Central Coast Mariners: 1. Mark BIRIGHITTI (GK), 2. Ziggy GORDON, 3. Jack CLISBY, 4. Eun-Seon KIM ©, 8. Michael MCGLINCHEY (17. Samuel SILVERA 58’), 11. Daniel De SILVA, 18. Gianni STENSNESS, 21. Ruon TONGYIK, 24. Chris HAROLD (19. Matt SIMON, 77’), 26. Josh NISBET, 27. Lewis MILLER (10. Tommy OAR 58’).

Subs Not Used: 12. Adam PEARSE (GK), 7. Milan DURIC, 9. Jordan MURRAY, 29. JAIR.

Yellow Cards: Miller 19’, De Silva 78’, Kim 93’.

Red Cards: None.

Ground: Central Coast Stadium

Referee: Chris Beath

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Wanderers see off Mariners in Gosford

A Matt Simon penalty and a late resurgence wasn't enough for the Mariners on Sunday night, as they fell 3-1 to the Western Sydney Wanderers at Central Coast Stadium.

It was a scrappy first half as the two teams vied for possession in the testing conditions, with plenty of chances created on both ends of the pitch.

Joshua Nisbet volleyed an effort at goal from the edge of the 18-yard box, but found Wanderers shot-stopper Lopar instead, and Daniel DeSilva and Tommy Oar both fired wide from inside the area in quick succession as the Mariners looked to push back aftera strong Wanderers opening.

Jordan Murray had the stand-out opportunity for the Mariners in the first half, getting on the end of a precision through ball from Nisbet, but after cutting inside he couldn’t keep the ball down.

There was a yellow card each for Matthew Jurman and Lewis Miller; the Western Sydney defender took Tommy Oar clean off his feet, and later Miller’s challenge brought Duke to ground.

Nicolai Muller was consistently dangerous in the Wanderers’ front third, carving a path through the Mariner’s defence to send a powerful shot skidding just wide of the mark in the 30th minute, then capitalising on a mistimed pass in the Mariners backline to put the visitors up 1-0 only minutes before half time.

The energy ramped up as the teams returned from the sheds for the second half and Mariners veteran Matt Simon made an immediate impact on the pitch, replacing Clisby at half time.

A flurry of missed chances for the Wanderers let the Mariners off, and Mark Birighitti was sent to ground after a close-range volley from Duke hit him directly in the face, a crucial block in a dangerous moment for the Mariners.

After a challenge in the penalty area from Tommy Oar on Simon Cox, Western Sydney were awarded a spot-kick that captain Mitchell Duke tucked away, sending the Wanderers two goals ahead with 15 minutes to go.

The tables were turned only minutes later, and a penalty was awarded to the Mariners after Pirmin Schwegler floored Simon in front of goal and the talisman stepped up to the spot and sent the ball straight to the back of the net.

Dylan Ruiz-Diaz came on for DeSilva late in the game, and the young forward had the crowd immediately on their feet with a goalbound header towards the bottom corner that Lopar did remarkably well to claw away for a Mariners corner.

The six minutes of added time were action packed as the Mariners worked to drive forward, and Muller received a yellow card for a cynical foul on Miller as the hosts charged forward, before the Wanderers launched a counter attack that finished with Simon Cox tapping home from close range.

Attentions for Stajcic and the Mariners now turn to Sunday’s #F3Derby clash with the Jets, with new signing Chris Harold set to join the side early in the week.

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