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Mariners fight but fall just short in Melbourne

A strong performance against the ladder leaders fell just short on Saturday night for the Mariners as Melbourne City claimed the A-League Premiership at AAMI Park with drama right up until the final stages.

In Oliver Bozanic’s 150th A-League match, the Mariners captain was set to attempt to level the scores from the penalty spot in stoppage time before VAR intervened, rubbing out the chance and leaving Craig Noone’s second half strike as the only goal of the contest.

Alen Stajcic named an almost unchanged side from last week’s #F3Derby win, Daniel DeSilva returned to the starting lineup after two matches out through injury, with Daniel Bouman moving to the bench.

The hosts looked to come out fast but spurned two early chances, and the Mariners settled into the flow of the game after a frenetic opening 15 minutes.

Kye Rowles and Ruon Tongyik were in great touch at the back, while Bozanic and Gianni Stensness grew into the game and began to dictate the flow in midfield.

Bozanic nearly teed up Simon on the half hour mark with a lovely chip in behind, but Curtis Good was on hand to clear the ball away and the two sides headed into the break all square.

Aiden O’Neill headed wide early in the second half and Mark Birighitti was called into action from a set piece, and Stajcic made his first changes of the game as Alou Kuol and Lewis Miller replaced Simon and Stefan Nigro 12 minutes into the half.

City would strike first though, as Noone climbed over the back of Lewis Miller to head into the far corner, with the goal standing despite protests following it.

That spurred the visitors on though, and City were forced into a number of rash fouls, with Jack Clisby, Bozanic and Miller all brought down in promising positions as the Mariners looked to get back into the game.

Jaden Casella and Bouman were introduced and added to the attacking impetus with time winding down, and Stajcic’s side pinned City back.

The hosts thought they had their second with five minutes to play but it was brought back for a handball, and late drama unfolded as Birighitti headed up for a stoppage time corner.

As the ball hung over the area the Mariners goalkeeper appeared to be dragged down, and the referee pointed to the spot, before the decision was overturned via VAR, leaving City to see out the game as 1-0 victors.

The result leaves the Mariners in third spot, with an important clash against fellow finals hopefuls Macarthur up next on Thursday.

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The Central Coast Mariners returned to outright second on Saturday night, with a resolute display on the road in Newcastle helping them to a 1-0 victory over the Jets.

Marco Urena returned for the Mariners with Alou Kuol back to the bench, while Daniel DeSilva missed his second game in row through injury.

The hosts had the first proper chance just three minutes in through Jason Hoffman, but Mark Birighitti was equal to the task with an important save and Ruon Tongyik was on hand to deny Matt Millar with a crunching follow up tackle.

Matt Simon and the returning Urena looked to combine but Simon was denied by the side netting and offside flag before earning the Mariners first corner not long after.

Gianni Stensness and Tongyik were both yellow carded as the contest got physical through the half, and the visitors looked to impose themselves on the match.

It remained all square after 45 minutes though, and the Mariners came out of the blocks much quicker in the second half.

Josh Nisbet forced a save from Lewis Italiano early on, and six minutes came the best chance of the match as Dan Bouman was collected in the box and the referee pointed to the spot.

There was a delay as VAR confirmed the call but when it did, Simon made no mistake, firing low into the corner to put the Mariners ahead with his 10th goal of the A-League campaign.

Simon was replaced not long after by Alou Kuol, and the Jets were pushing for an equaliser when Birighitti acrobatically tipped Roy O’Donovan’s shot over the crossbar before punching clear from the resulting corner.

Kye Rowles was on hand with a big intervention to deny Valentino Yuel as the game entered the final 20 minutes, and he was important bringing the ball out of the backline, forcing a number of Jets players into fouling.

There were some nervy moments as the Jets pushed for a goal late, but it was to no avail as the Mariners held strong for a second #F3Derby win of the season.

The win sets up a big match for the Mariners next weekend as the team travels to Melbourne to face ladder leaders Melbourne City.

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Central Coast Mariners FC

The Mariners and Roar shared the points on Wednesday night in Redcliffe at a soggy Moreton Daily Stadium.

Daniel DeSilva didn’t travel after picking up an injury late in Tuesday’s training session, and Daniel Bouman was named in the starting side to replace him.

The Mariners started brightly, pinning Brisbane back and looking after the ball for much of the early proceedings, with good pressure from Alou Kuol and Matt Simon when the hosts were in possession.

Kuol forced an early save from Jamie Young and Mark Birighitti stopped an effort from Joey Champness, and Bouman was causing problems as he first looked to set up Josh Nisbet and then had a shot of his own saved.

Kai Trewin was yellow carded for wrestling Kuol to the ground as Alen Stajcic’s side continued to cause problems but were unable to find the finishing touch, and Oliver Bozanic almost created a goal as he spun away from two defenders and crossed but his ball was just out of reach of Simon at the back post.

Brisbane almost got off to a fast start in the second half as Champness had the ball in the back of the net, but he was correctly ruled to be offside when he forced home the rebound after Birighitti saved well from Dylan Wenzel-Halls.

Lewis Miller replaced Stefan Nigro on the right, while Jack Clisby and Bozanic had efforts flash wide in quick succession.

The introduction of Jordan Smylie for Kuol provided some spark and the youngster was involved almost immediately as he had a chance blocked, and Gianni Stensness had a header saved by Young after a corner was worked around again.

It was all Mariners in the dying minutes and Bozanic came so close when a long range effort struck the crossbar, but it was not to be as the 90 minutes ended goalless.

A short turnaround now presents for the Mariners as the #F3Derby beckons on Saturday evening against the Jets, and Stajcic will welcome back Marco Urena for that outing as he returns from suspension.

Brisbane Roar 0 drew. Central Coast Mariners 0

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Brisbane prevail over Mariners in Gosford

The Mariners fell 4-0 to Brisbane in Gosford on Wednesday night, with late goals and a second half red card putting the Roar on top on the night.

Macauley Gillesphey’s set piece goal in the first half and a second half strike from Joey Champness had the Roar ahead, before a red card to Marco Urena and two late goals pushed out the margin.

Alen Stajcic welcomed back Ruon Tongyik to the starting team, while impact substitute Alou Kuol was absent from the game with illness.

It was a cagey opening from both teams, with neither committing too much forward, although Stefan Nigro and Josh Nisbet combined well down the right early.

Joey Champness looked lively on the left for Brisbane, but the opening goal came from their right hand edge instead. A corner was cleared but a cross followed it again, and it was nodded on towards the far post where Macaulay Gillesphey ghosted in to fire into the roof of the net.

Moments later the Mariners looked to have a way back into the game when the referee blew for a spot kick for a Brisbane handball, however upon VAR review the decision was changed and Brisbane escaped.

Josh Nisbet had a chance seven minutes before the break as he found a sliver of space in which to shoot from the edge of the area, but it fizzed just wide of goal and the Roar remained ahead at half time.

There was concern for Gianni Stensness early in the second half when he was collected high by Gillesphey at a Roar corner but he was able to continue, and shortly after Urena fired over down the other end.

The Roar struck next though, Joey Champness found space to cut inside from the left side and fired an effort just inside the near post. The news was not much better minutes later, as Urena was shown a red card for a challenge on Jay O’Shea, VAR upgrading the original yellow card to a red on review.

Lewis Miller and Dan Bouman were introduced by Stajcic shortly after as the Mariners looked to chase the game, and chances fell for Stensness and Nisbet with the home side often in control.

Jaden Casella and Jordan Smylie also entered the fray, but the Roar eventually succeeded in breaking away on the counter, with Alex Parsons and Masato Kudo adding goals in the dying minutes to inflate the scoreline.

The Mariners now take on another quick turnaround and navigate their fourth game in 14 days with a trip to Melbourne on the weekend to face Melbourne Victory at AAMI Park.

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Mariners and Sky Blues share points in thriller

The Mariners and Sydney FC shared the points in an A-League thriller on Saturday night as more than 10,000 fans watched the 2-2 draw at Central Coast Stadium.

The Mariners went two goals up in the first half but late goals in both halves from the visitors were enough for them to snag a share of the points.

Alen Stajcic made three changes to his starting side from the loss to Western United, as Dan Hall replaced the suspended Ruon Tongyik while Daniel DeSilva and Joshua Nisbet both came into the team further up the pitch.

After a slow start last weekend the Mariners came out of the blocks quickly as the match began at a frantic pace, and they took just six minutes to hit the lead.

Great pressure in midfield forced a Sydney FC turnover and Oliver Bozanic pounced to launch a ball into the path of Marco Urena running towards goal.

The Costa Rican cut inside and a shot fake left Alex Wilkinson and Andrew Redmayne stranded before a deft chip finished the move and put the Mariners ahead.

The frenetic pace continued and Sydney thought they had an equaliser just after the half hour mark when Bobo put the ball in the back of the net, however the Brazilian was judged to be offside in the buildup.

Matt Simon made that hurt even more shortly afterwards as he doubled the advantage with a wonderful finish across Redmayne four minutes before the break, having exchanged passes with Josh Nisbet who flicked the ball over his head to Simon to create the goal.

Sydney struck back on the stroke of the break through Ninkovic, cutting the lead in half as the Serbian forward volleyed Luke Brattan’s through ball past Mark Birighitti and in.

The second half began in a similar manner to the first and the Mariners were pushing to extend their lead once more, Urena firing just wide before Sydney FC had another goal chalked off for an offside infringement just before the hour mark.

Chances came and went at both ends, and it was the Sky Blues who would score the final goal of the game as Trent Buhagiar pounced on an errant pass from the back, and after a one-two fired the ball home to give Sydney a point on the road.

For the Mariners it is a quick turnaround now to a home clash with Brisbane Roar on Wednesday as the season enters the home stretch.

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