Bolt's all-action display gives Mariners plenty to consider
It was billed as a make or break test of Usain Bolt’s professional footballing bid, and Mike Mulvey's Central Coast Mariners will have plenty to ponder after the 32-year-old's second half brace against Macarthur South West United.
Although the former Olympian's overall display was still a little rough around the edges, the Mariners hierarchy will undoubtedly be enthused by the Jamaican’s endeavour throughout his 75 minute appearance.
Bolt had Campbelltown Stadium on their feet from the early minutes when he pounced on an error on halfway and broke into the clear, but a heavy touch allowed Macarthur to recover.
Later in the first half, he met Tommy Oar’s devilish ball in with a powerful downward header that crept inches wide of the post.
The opportunities kept flowing for him in the second half, and just minutes after spurning a golden chance from close range, his big moment arrived.
A lovely first time pass from Ross McCormack released the eight-time Olympic gold medallist through on goal and with the aid of a small deflection, Bolt lashed in a tidy left-footed finish that squirmed past Macarthur gloveman Ezequiel Consoni at the near post.
It got even better for Bolt when he capitalised on a horror mix up at the back from Macarthur which allowed him to fire in a second unchallenged, before leaving the field in the 75th minute to a rapturous reception.
While Bolt offered some impressive moments in his crucial audition, Mariners new boys Ross McCormack and Tommy Oar were also eager to impress on their maiden Central Coast appearances.
With Bolt leading the line, the two Mariners debutants were deployed in forward roles on either side and combined for the opening goal, with McCormack burying Oar’s cross from the left with a diving header.
Mariners fans will undoubtedly be licking their lips by at the prospect of a fully fit and firing McCormack. The veteran Scotsman demonstrated his lethal predatory instincts for his early header, but proved that he'll also be an integral part of Mulvey's build up play after some lovely combination touches in the final third.
Meanwhile, the Mariners left side partnership of Oar and Jack Clisby could prove to be a genuine headache for Hyundai A-League defences this season.
The former Western Sydney Wanderers fullback has been a reformed man for Mulvey’s side in pre-season, and his natural attacking instinct was once again on display as he laid on an assist for Jordan Murray and looked dangerous throughout.