Victory end losing run with 1-1 draw against league-leading Mariners
A contest between first and last on the A-League table ended all square on Saturday night, after Central Coast Mariners drew 1-1 with Melbourne Victory at Central Coast Stadium.
Victory scored first through Callum McManaman on 20 minutes before Marco Ureña levelled the scores ten minutes later. The following hour produced chances down either end but no more goals, as the Victory took a point from the league-leaders to end a losing streak of four games.
The result pushed the Mariners' lead at the top of the table back out to two points, but Alen Stajcic's side have now played two games more than second-placed Melbourne City - a team looking primed to overhaul the Mariners on current form.
Central Coast are now winless in three games leading into a clash with Adelaide United on Thursday, April 1. Victory, meanwhile, take confidence from an improved performance ahead of the Big Blue against Sydney FC on Sunday, April 4.
Victory got on the front foot early against the Mariners, taking the challenge to the league-leaders and pressing to find an advantage which ultimately came in the 20th minute of play through McManaman.
Jake Brimmer sent McManaman in on goal with a quickly-taken free-kick flashed toward the right flank, catching the Mariners unaware of the imminent danger. McManaman gathered the ball and steamed toward goal, isolating Kye Rowles in a one-on-one before skipping around the Mariners defender and slotting his shot past Mark Birighitti into the bottom corner.
Daniel Bouman went close to levelling the scores for the hosts when he poked a headed pass from Matt Simon toward goal, but his close-range attempt lacked the purchase needed to test Matt Acton in between the sticks for the visitors.
But on the half-hour mark, Bouman made a far greater impact with a mesmeric turn and assist for Ureña's equalising goal. Bouman feinted to gather a pass from Stefan Nigro on the right flank, instead electing to allow the ball to roll through his legs as he spun clear of Jacob Butterfield's close marking to reconnect with the ball and drive down the wing.
Ureña made a smart run into space which Bouman honoured with a through ball which curled past Victory defender Dylan Ryan, allowing Ureña to gather in the box and score with ease into the bottom-left corner.
SUNDAY FOOTBALL PREVIEW: A-League, Westfield W-League – March 28
The Mariners are no strangers to a comeback performance in the 2020/21 A-League campaign, and as the second half began Stajcic's side instantly set about taking the lead from yet another losing position.
An under-hit pass from Adama Traore back toward his goalkeeper presented Matt Simon with the chance to pounce on the loose ball in the box and endeavour to give his side a 2-1 lead. Simon clashed with Acton who got off his line to parry the initial chance, but the Mariners striker was quickest to his feet to run onto the rebound.
Storm Roux then entered the picture, sliding in to meet Simon. Neither player got a touch on the ball, which continued on its trickling path toward an unguarded goal before Jay Barnett intervened, clearing the danger at the back post.
A pair of chances in quick succession down either end threatened to break the deadlock with just under a quarter of an hour left on the clock.
Oliver Bozanic went close to adding a captain's goal to the Mariners' comeback efforts with a shot from a tight angle which flashed over Acton's crossbar, before the visitors responded with a counter attack created by Butterfield's piercing ball to send Kamsoba through the Mariners' defensive line and in on goal.
Kamsoba rounded Birighitti but the Mariners got bodies on the line as Stefan Nigro intercepted the resulting shot.
Central Coast Mariners v Adelaide United
Thursday, April 1 2021
Venue: Central Coast Stadium
Kick-off: 7.40pm AEDT
Melbourne Victory v Sydney FC
Sunday, April 4 2021
Kick-off: 3.05pm AET
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