Western United FC
Central Coast Mariners
A-League MW17
UTAS Stadium

Early Pain strike helps Western United down Mariners in Tasmania

Western United began their Tasmanian Festival of Football in style, defeating Central Coast Mariners 1-0 at UTAS Stadium on Saturday evening. 

An early Connor Pain goal settled the first of United's two home games to be played in Tasmania between April 17-22, as the Green and Black took three points off the league-leaders in a tightly-contested affair. 

Pain scored on five minutes, converting a left-footed poked finish after playing a one-two with Besart Berisha on the edge of United's attacking box. 

It proved all United needed to clinch victory at UTAS Stadium. Daniel Bouman, Marco Ureña and Matt Simon all came close with attempts throughout the opening hour of play before Alou Kuol emerged from the bench to cause United problems late on.

But United held firm, led by a back three of Tomoki Imai, Andrew Durante and Brendan Hamill and aided by Tomislav Uskok screening in front of the defence. 

The Mariners began Matchweek 17 just one point ahead of Adelaide United and two ahead of Melbourne City, leaving Alen Stajcic's side vulnerable to losing their place on top of the A-League table by the end of the weekend's action. United, meanwhile, draw level with Brisbane Roar on 23 points, just two behind Western Sydney Wanderers in sixth. 

READ: Western United's Festival of Football bringing the A-League to Tasmania
MW16 REPORT: Danzaki helps Brisbane secure pivotal win over Wanderers
MORE: Mariners agree deal for transfer of Alou Kuol at end of season

Key Moments

Western United impressed in the opening half, taking an early lead through Pain and holding it to the break.

The United full-back converted off the back of a one-two with Besart Berisha in the fifth minute of play. Michał Janota gave chase but Pain broke free of the Mariners man as he reconnected with the ball he initially fed to Berisha on the edge of the box.

Kye Rowles stepped out of his defensive line to intervene but Pain brushed past with ease to poke a left-footed shot into the bottom-left corner of Mark Birighitti's goal.

GOAL: Pain - United lead in Tassie

Pain was a continuous threat to the Mariners' defence; as was Iker Guarrotxena who was involved in a number of promising United moves throughout the first half.

The Spaniard shot wide off a Dylan Pierias cutback on 20 minutes, before feeding Pain in to shoot on goal two minutes later. Birighitti pulled off a smart save from Pain's shot from a tight angle.

Guarrotxena then benefited off a sublime, no-look through ball lofted by Alessandro Diamanti over Central Coast's defensive line and into the path of his teammate in the box. Guarrotxena volleyed first time with the ball dropping into his path, but struck his clean attempt directly into Birighitti's path.

The Mariners were stifled for large parts of the first half, and there was minimal service offered to striker Simon. Ureña saw a chance to go one-on-one with Ryan Scott stifled by a Hamill block before Janota slid Bouman in for a chance saved by Scott in first-half added time. 

SAVE: Scott - Mariners find their groove just before the half

The Mariners raised their intensity after the break as Simon began to get more involved in his side's attacking play, but a second yellow card to Ruon Tongyik on the hour mark threatened to stifle any hopes of a Central Coast comeback.

Tongyik received his first yellow card in the 30th minute for a challenge on Guarrotxena, before receiving his marching orders for blocking Pain's run as the United man looked to burst into space and connect with Berisha's ball down the line.

But a VAR check gave Tongyik a second chance - Berisha was found offside while receiving the initial ball from Paine, which allowed Tongyik to remain on the park.

Simon was replaced by Alou Kuol in the 68th minute of play, but not before sending a shot on goal from Bozanic's through pass off the side-netting and out of play.

CHANCE: Simon - Veteran striker finding the wrong side of the net

Bozanic continued to provide an encouraging, forward-thinking impact when he stepped past Victor Sánchez to thump a long-distance strike over Scott's crossbar.

Kuol lifted Central Coast's intensity after coming off the bench, winning a 50/50 with Hamill before driving into the box and shooting low to Scott's left, but the United 'keeper stretched a leg out to block the low shot out for a corner.

A tense finish ensued with plenty of spiteful challenges flying in from either side as United dug deep to preserve their lead and the Mariners did the same in search of an equaliser. But no such goal was to come from the visitors, as the Green and Black wrapped up all three points in Tasmania.

SAVE: Scott - United keeper denies the Stuttgart-bound youngster

Next Matches

Western United v Wellington Phoenix
Thursday, April 22 2021
UTAS Stadium
Kick-off: 7.05pm AEST
Match Centre

Central Coast Mariners v Sydney FC
Saturday, April 24 2021
Central Coast Stadium
Kick-off: 5.05pm AEST
Match Centre