Central Coast Mariners have snapped their three-game losing streak after a 1-1 draw with Wellington Phoenix at a wet Gosford on Sunday.
The visitors took an early lead through ex-Mariner McGlinchey and held onto that advantage for over an hour before the Mariners got a deserved equaliser 14 minutes from the end.
Striker Roy O’Donovan scored with a superb header from Anthony Caceres’ corner to ensure a share of the spoils for the home side, who dominated the majority of an entertaining clash.
The result keeps both sides outside of the top six, with Phoenix in seventh spot on seven points and the Mariners a place further back on four points.
0-1 McGlinchey (8’) – A stunning counter-attack from Phoenix. Roy Krishna surged down the right before switching play to an unmarked McGlinchey. The Kiwi international cut inside Jake McGing before curling an unstoppable shot past Paul Izzo.
1-1 O’Donovan (76’) – The Irishman made a great run to the near post from a corner, stealing a metre of space from his marker before diverting his header in over the top of Glen Moss.
Wellington sprung forward at pace on the counter, with the ball eventually finding its way to Roly Bonevacia about 25 yards from goal.
The Dutchman stepped past one defender, getting the ball onto his weaker left foot but still let fly with a thunderous effort. The ball had Izzo beaten but crunched onto the post and away to safety for the home side.
It was a huge let-off for the Mariners, who made the most of it by going down the other end 15 minutes later and equalising through O’Donovan.
OPTA DATA KEY STATS
McGlinchey’s early strike for the visitors was the first time in their last 12 matches Phoenix has opened the scoring.
The Mariners had almost 60 percent of possession in the first half and nine shots at goal to the visitors’ three. But only one of those attempts was on target at an accuracy rate of less than 15 percent.
O’Donovan’s goal means he has now scored in every one of his three games at Central Coast Stadium this season.
The result was also the first time in 11 meetings in Gosford these two sides have played out a draw.
Midway through the first half, Mariners midfielder Anthony Caceres was involved in an eye-catching piece of play which almost resulted in a goal.
The youngster played a clever one-two with Fabio Ferreira, although the return pass from the Portuguese was a tough one to control. No problem, Caceres juggled it on his thigh, then foot before flicking it over Manny Muscat and then hitting a volley towards goal almost in one motion.
The strike went just wide of Glen Moss’s far post but was a sublime bit of skill from the talented midfield technician.
A huge blow for the Mariners 20 minutes from the end with the dangerous Fabio Ferreira forced off with a hamstring problem, which they will hope won’t sideline him for too long.
BACK TO THE DRAWING BOARD
There’s an unwritten rule in football that you don’t make a substitute when defending at a set piece. Phoenix boss Ernie Merrick opted to make a change before a Mariners corner and it came back to bite the experienced coach on the bottom, with his side switching off for a split second and allowing O’Donovan to drew the home side level with a peach of a header.
THE FINAL WORD
The Mariners snapped their three-game losing streak but it’s wins coach Tony Walmsley really wants. There would be no better time to overturn this run than in the F3 Derby against the Jets in Newcastle next Saturday.
Wellington bounced back from their drubbing against Melbourne Victory to get a hard-earned point on the road and they are well-placed after the opening month of the season. It’s a short turnaround though as they host the bottom-placed Adelaide United on Friday night.
Central Coast Mariners: Izzo, Roux, McGing, Poscoliero, J. Rose, Montgomery (c), L. Rose (Heffernan 56’), Caceres, Ferreira, (Bingham 71’), Austin (Kalik 82’), O’Donovan
Wellington Phoenix: Moss, Gulley (Fenton 78’), Sigmund, Durante (c), Muscat, Riera, Rodriguez, Bonevacia (Ridenton 76’), Krishna, McGlinchey, Sarpong (Rufer 46’)
Scorers: McGlinchey 8’, O’Donovan 76’
Red cards: Nil
Yellow cards: Bonevacia 6’, O’Donovan 9’, Sigmund 36’, Rose 40’, Riera 46’
Conditions: 19C, WetAttendance: 6460 @ Central Coast Stadium