Heroic Moments: Kennedy fights back to enter F3 Derby legend

Footballers who are brave enough to cross the derby divide always hit the headlines, but those who return to haunt their former employers find themselves immortalised in club folklore.

To the likes of Sol Campbell (Tottenham Hotspur to Arsenal) and Luis Figo (Barcelona to Real Madrid), we can now add Central Coast Mariners goalkeeper Ben Kennedy. 

While it may not boast the same significance as ex-Spurs defender Campbell celebrating the 2-2 draw that won the 2003/04 Premier League title for new team Arsenal at the home of his former club, Kennedy's dramatic exploits are sure to see his name up in lights in Gosford for some time to come. 

On Saturday evening, the 32-year-old Mariners shot stopper engraved his own iconic derby moment on the Hyundai A-League with two injury-time penalty saves to clinch a 3-2 F3 Derby win over Newcastle Jets.

Born and bred Novocastrian Kennedy, who spent more than a decade in the Hunter Valley after making his top-flight debut back in 2006, denied Jets striker Roy O’Donovan with two nearly identical saves from 12 yards to bookend one of the most dramatic climaxes ever seen in the competition.

The keeper leapt to his left to beat out O'Donovan's first attempt, only to see Jets full-back Daniel Georgievski slam in the rebound. But Newcastle's celebrations were cut short by VAR, which deemed that Georgievski had encroached, and after a length delay the ball was back on the spot for a re-take. 

O'Donovan went the same way with his second spot-kick. And so did Kennedy, pulling off a carbon-copy flying stop to ensure a rare three points for his beleaguered side. 

TOTW: Four Mariners in Round 22's best
REPORT: Kennedy heroics help Mariners clinch Hyundai A-League epic 
READ: Mark Rudan's emotional tribute to Christchurch victims

Not only did Kennedy secure the struggling Mariners’ first F3 Derby win in Newcastle since December 2012, but added what could be a killer blow to their rivals' top-six ambitions.

The Thornton junior was overdue his moment in the sun. It has been a seriously trying season for Kennedy, who has pulled off the second-highest number of saves in the competition but has often found the task of keeping the Mariners' opponents at bay a fruitless one.

WATCH FOR FREE: How to watch the Hyundai A-League LIVE and FREE

 

The knives could have been out for him on Saturday, too, after Kennedy palmed Nigel Boogaard's shot onto the knees of Ronny Vargas and saw the rebound roll past him for Jets' second goal of their nerve-shredding comeback attempt from 3-0 down. 

But Mariners fans will scarcely remember that blip, just as any future mishap at the hands of Kennedy will be softened by memories of the goalkeeper's last-ditch penalty heroics.

Mariners
Celebrate good times: Mariners' players and fans enjoy success in the F3 Derby

Sydney crushed by Premier League starlet

This is why Melbourne City boss Warren Joyce was intent on bringing Shayon Harrison in on loan from English Premier League outfit Tottenham Hotspur.

Harrison offered composure befitting a seasoned marksman for his maiden Hyundai A-League strike against Sydney FC on Sunday, an effort that helped City to a 2-0 upset win.


And the youngster sealed the contest late on with an acrobatic volley which ricocheted off Paulo Retre and past Sky Blues stopper Andrew Redmayne.

Signed by City only hours after the club confirmed the capture of Caltex Socceroos striker Jamie Maclaren on deadline day, the 21-year-old showed ice-cold technique to settle this tie and get City back to winning ways.

Maclaren issued a call for patience following the pair’s club debuts in the 1-1 draw with Adelaide United on February 9.

Little more than a month later, Melbourne are beginning to reap the benefits of the duo's budding partnership.

REPORT: Harrison deals Sydney FC a hammer blow 

On-loan Karacan drives Mariners

One of the first decisions for Central Coast Mariners new interim boss Alen Stajcic - managing his maiden Hyundai A-League match - was to toss the captain's armband to Jem Karacan for the visit to Newcastle.

It was an astute call from the former Westfield Matildas head coach.

Former Reading and Bolton midfielder Karacan was simply phenomenal in his side’s F3 Derby shock.

He relentlessly shielded an under-siege defence in the first half, with little support in possession, but began to build a foothold for his side in the second period thanks to his incision with the ball. 

Karacan also buried his first goal in Australia by firmly tucking away Matthew Millar’s cute cutback on the hour mark.

We are not too sure about that celebration though...

Not you again

That's seven goals in three matches against Brisbane Roar for Kosta Barbarouses this season, following his double in Saturday's 2-1 win over the Queenslanders.

The Roar must be sick of the sight of their former protégé, now starring for Melbourne Victory. 

Barbarouses continues to thrive sharing the role of Victory focal point, a tactical shift from Kevin Muscat that has resulted in the Kiwi's highest-ever goal return. 

The New Zealand international now has 13 for the campaign and is set to play his 200th Hyundai A-League match when the Victory travel to face Perth Glory on March 30.

REPORT: Victory prevail as Barbarouses haunts Roar again
READ: Muscat hails Barbarouses effect after trying period

Keogh puts Perth on the brink

Andy Keogh also ensured his finest-ever Hyundai A-League return this weekend, as Perth Glory beat Adelaide United 2-0 on Friday.

Kept on the bench by Joel Chianese for Glory's trip to South Australia, Keogh needed just five minutes to make his mark after replacing Ivan Franjic with 65 minutes gone, seizing on an errant pass from Isaias and calmly doubling the advantage for Tony Popovic's side.

That was the Irish striker's 13th goal of the season, eclipsing his previous best of 12 in 2016/17.

In addition to spurring Perth close to the Premiers' Plate, Keogh has now scored seven goals against United, and overtakes Travis Dodd (six) as the outright leading goal scorer in the history of the fixture.

READ: The leadership duo commanding Perth's Premiership assault