Melbourne City FC and Central Coast Mariners played out a 1-1 draw at Oakes Oval in Lismore on Sunday afternoon.
A frantic two minutes saw Melbourne City take the lead in the 56th minutes only to see it snatched away only a minute later.
A fantastic training ground set piece saw Aaron Mooy drive a ball across the box to see Rob Wielaert peel off and rocket the ball in the top corner. Wielaert went from hero to zero a minute later as he brought down Anthony Caceres inside the box for Malick Mane to drive down the middle and level the scores.
The adopted home side began the game with an outstanding amount of positivity, with its full-backs pushing high from the outset. Ross Archibald looked dangerous in the opening five minutes, overlapping behind Damien Duff on a number of occasions and even having a chance on goal.
Melbourne City FC’s first chance of the game came from a well-worked short corner between Duff and Mooy that found the Irishman looping a ball into the crowded box. Patrick Kisnorbo nodded towards goal but was cleared off the line by Tom Slater on the post.
The home team were the dominant side throughout the first half and its ball retention in the forward third would have had John van’t Schip pleased.
Mooy’s dead-ball threat was there for the Mariners to see as his whipped cross landed in the area and flicked on by Rob Wielaert who forced a great reflex save from Liam Reddy.
Melbourne City FC continued their dominance and peppered the goals from all angles. The best chance of the half fell to Kisnorbo yet again as the Mariners failed to clear a regulation corner. The ball comically bobbled in the box with Kisnorbo swinging at the ball that looked goal bound. His effort beat Reddy but was cleared off the line again by Slater.
The Mariners came out of the rooms with a bit more vigour and almost took an unlikely lead when Isaka Cernak beat the Melbourne City FC high line. Andrew Redmayne stood tall and thwarted the oncoming threat.
Most of the 4,000 strong crowd thought Melbourne City FC took the lead through Duff as the Irishman beat the offside trap and looked to have chipped the on-coming Reddy. As the ball bounced towards goal, it trickled out and hit the side netting.
A frantic two-minute period unfolded as Wielaert went from hero to zero finishing a well-worked set piece and conceding the penalty for a foul on Caceres.
The game petered out after the two goals as both coaches made a range of changes.
The fresh legs of Mitchell Duke almost caught out the Melbourne City FC defence as the striker powered through the line, cutting back to Caceres and hitting the base of the post.
Melbourne City FC’s final chance of the game came in the 73rd minute when Dekker pounced on a turn over and had rounded Reddy but the youth trialist was on too much of an acute angle to tuck away his efforts.
Melbourne City FC 1 (Rob Wielaert 56')
Central Coast Mariners 1 (Malick Mane 57')
Oakes Oval, Lismore
Referee: Jarred Gillett
Melbourne City starting line-up: 1. Andrew Redmayne (GK), 3. Rob Wielaert, 6. Aaron Mooy, 7. Iain Ramsay, 8. Massimo Murdocca, 10. Robi Koren, 11. Damien Duff, 23. Mate Dugandzic (14. James Brown, 63’), 24. Patrick Kisnorbo (C), 26. Ross Archibald, 32. Marc Marino (33. Wade Dekker, 63’).
Unused Substitutes: 20. Tando Velaphi (GK), 4. Nick Symeoy.
Yellow Cards: 86’ Kisnorbo
Red Cards: Nil