Magnificent Mariners close in on Finals Series after comeback win over Bulls
Central Coast Mariners took an enormous step toward securing Finals Series football by coming from behind to beat Macarthur FC 2-1 at Campbelltown Stadium on Thursday night.
The Bulls took the lead through Markel Susaeta but the visitors dominated the remainder of the first half, pegging one back through a rare Jack Clisby finish just beyond the half-hour mark before Daniel De Silva completed the comeback with a 55th-minute finish hit from outside the box neatly into the top-right corner.
Clisby could have bagged himself an unlikely hat-trick before the break, hitting the side netting with a close-range shot just minutes after providing the equaliser before putting the ball in the back of the net for a second time in the 45th minute, only for Marco Ureña to be spotted in an offside position by a VAR check.
Ureña was the star of the show at Campbelltown Stadium, playing a key hand in Clisby's finish before assisting De Silva in the second half, operating as the central figure in a Mariners outfit aggressively searching for all three points at Campbelltown Stadium.
The Bulls increased their attacking impetus late in the game as substitute Lachlan Rose offered a bright spark off the bench but the Mariners dug in to keep their lead intact. Earning three points helped Alen Stajcic's side into third spot on the A-League table as the Mariners went one step closer to securing Finals Series football in Gosford.
Macarthur FC burst out of the blocks at Campbelltown Stadium before the Mariners answered back, drawing level before mounting an aggressive search for a second goal which wasn't to come before the break as the two sides went into the break with one goal each on the scoresheet.
Susaeta opened the scoring in the 17th minute, getting in behind Ruon Tongyik to lob the ball over Mark Birighitti with a first-time shot on the volley.
After Susaeta put his side ahead the Bulls allowed Central Coast to take control of the game as Ureña came to the fore to provide continuous problems for the home side throughout the first half.
It was the Costa Rican who sparked the move to get the Mariners level, driving through midfield to find Matt Simon, who turned to play Clisby down the left flank to apply an emphatic finish buried into the bottom-right corner.
It was the start of a manic 10-minute spell for Clisby, who was presented with a pair of almost identical chances after scoring his first goal of the season.
Clisby hit the side netting with the first of the two opportunities before finding the back of the net for the second time in the 42nd minute of play. It seemed as though the Mariners full-back could hardly believe it himself as he celebrated his brace, before a VAR inquest found Ureña offside in the build-up to the move, and the Mariners' second goal was wiped from the scoresheet.
Central Coast continued to offer the greater offensive threat as the first half ticked to its conclusion when Josh Nisbet found Simon inside the box after a darting run off the right flank.
Simon looked up to see Federici rushing off his line and looked to place the ball in the bottom-left corner, but the Bulls 'keeper got a desperate right boot on the shot to send it around the left-hand goalpost and out for a corner.
The half-time break did little to aid Macarthur in their attempts to wrestle back momentum as the visiting side emerged from the sheds to pepper the Bulls' goal.
De Silva put Central Coast 2-1 up with 55 minutes on the clock, benefiting off a sharp Ureña run and pass which trickled along the edge of the box for the Mariners creator to finish.
De Silva elected for precision over power with the first-time shot, bending it past Federici to nestle the ball into the top corner.
Much like in the first half, the Mariners looked most likely to find the back of the net in the minutes after scoring. Oliver Bozanic whipped a strike from outside the box from a corner routine which Federici produced a stellar save to match, before Ureña received a golden chance to get on the scoresheet himself.
Nisbet and De Silva opened up the space outside the box with some neat interplay before the latter poked a pass through for Ureña to meet and strike - but Federici was yet again well equipped to handle the incessant pressure.
Alou Kuol emerged from the bench for the Mariners, and failed to seal all three points with a finish from the centre of the box which Federici blocked, before the Bulls stopper ventured forward in the dying moments of second-half extra time to take an air-swing at Genreau's delivery from a corner kick.
Federici failed to make purchase, but Mark Milligan got his head on the ball to send it toward goal. The Mariners capably kept the opportunity away and the final whistle blew - Mariners 'keeper Birighitti launched the ball fromf his hands over the hill behind the goal and out of Campbelltown Stadium in passionate celebration as the away side took all three points from an enthralling contest.
Western United v Macarthur FC
Monday, May 31 2021
Kick-off: 7.05pm AEST
Central Coast Mariners v Newcastle Jets
Tuesday, June 1 2021
Central Coast Stadium
Kick-off: 7.05pm AEST
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