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Mariners fight back for late draw in F3 Derby

An injury time equaliser for Matt Sim canceled out Milos Trifunovic’s second-half goal, as a ten-man Central Coast Mariners fought out a 1-1 draw in front of 9,422 fans in wet conditions at Hunter Stadium on Saturday evening.

This season’s first instalment of the F3 Derby had plenty of controversy and talking points, with a red card, late goals and penalty decisions being denied by the referee.

The home side were coming off a disappointing 2-1 loss to the Wanderers last week, but coach Scott Miller made just the one forced change to his starting line-up — Cameron Watson brought in for the injured Ben Kantarovski.

For the visitors, Nick Fitzgerald returned after his one-week suspension, while new striker Dan Heffernan was brought in for Fabio Ferreira, who will miss three weeks with a hamstring injury.

The game started in a fairly subdued, end-t0-end fashion, with both side’s defences standing tall.

Heffernan had the first half-chance of the game in just the 2nd minute, after the ball pinballed around the edge of the box from a free kick. The striker threw a boot at the ball on the turn, but couldn’t make significant enough contact.

The Jets first chance came after 14 minutes, when Milos Trifunovic was played in through the middle of the park. Mariners ‘keeper Paul Izzo came out to meet him, potentially obstructing the Jets striker as he tried to round Izzo. Referee Kris Griffiths-Jones, however, didn’t see it that way, calling for play to continue.

There would be controversy at the other end five minutes later, when Mitch Austin was brought down right on the edge of the penalty area. Replays suggested the foul was possibly inside the box, but the referee’s opinion was that the free kick would take place just inches the other side of the line.

A poor set piece followed, with the Jets defence able to read what the Mariners were planning and easily clear the ball away to safety.

The game changed in the 24th minute, when a two-footed challenge from Central Coast youngster Jake McGing on Leonardo earned him a straight red card, and an early shower. Leonardo was subsequently stretchered off and replaced by the energetic Radovan Pavicevic.

After the sending off, the Mariners held their own well. Possession in the ten minutes after the booking were split down the middle, as the Jets struggled to take advantage of their numerical supremacy.

The last chance of the half fell to Trifunovic, after some clever lead-up work by David Carney and Cameron Watson. The Serb, though, decided to try and scoop the ball over Izzo, but only managed to find the side netting.

Chances were few and far between in the second-half, as the rain that had battered northern New South Wales during the day continued unabated through to the final whistle.

In the 53rd minute, the ten-man Mariners should’ve been in front, if not for a wonderful point-blank save by Birighitti.

A cross in from the left wing by Austin was out in front of O’Donovan, who made good contact at full stretch to get the ball on target. Unfortunately, his shot went almost straight at Birighitti, who managed to somehow keep the ball out of the net.

The next best chance was for the Jets, and it provided the opening goal in the 83rd minute. From a corner, Trifunovic rose to meet the ball with a glancing header, which Izzo could only watch as it found its way into the net off the inside of the upright.

The Mariners pushed to find an equaliser, with four minutes of time added on by the officials.

In the 91st minute, Newcastle failed to clear a Mariners free kick, and substitute Matt Sim — who had never before scored in the A-League — guided a shot into the far corner to ensure the two teams would walk away with a share of the points.

 

Ultimate A-League ‘Player of the Season’ Votes
3 Nick Montgomery (Central Coast)
2 Lee Ki-Je (Newcastle Jets)
1 Mitch Austin (Central Coast)

About the author

avatarJustin is a passionate football fan, and the Editor-in-chief of Ultimate A-League.

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