Two goals in the space of four crazy second half minutes has seen Central Coast Mariners steal a shock 2-1 win over high-flying Adelaide United in Gosford on Saturday.
The Reds were the dominant side and appeared set for a well-deserved win thanks to Awer Mabil’s classy first-half goal.
But the Mariners dug in and got a lifeline 11 minutes from time when Nick Fitzgerald equalised from the penalty spot before Josh Rose popped up with the winner seven minutes from the end.
It was the perfect response by the Mariners after their 5-1 loss last time out while Adelaide missed the chance to close the gap on league-leaders Perth Glory.
WHAT THEY SAID
"I think after last week we needed to show a response especially to our fans, they deserved a lot more than what they got last week. We were coming up against one of the best teams in the competition so we needed to be good at home and I don't think we gave a lot away. The first goal was a big sloppy but I think second half we really turned it on and put in a good performance." Central Coast midfielder Nick Fitzgerald
0-1 Mabil (29’) – Sergio Cirio got free down the right and cut it back, the ball beating two Mariners defenders before finding Mabil. The young winger managed to flick the ball onto his left foot before hitting a powerful effort which took a slight deflection off the boot of Jacob Poscoliero on its way past Liam Reddy.
1-1 Fitzgerald (79’) - A Mariners counter attack ended with Fitzgerald scuffing a shot towards goal, the ball bouncing up awkwardly in front of Michael Marrone before striking his arm for a penalty. Fitzgerald’s spot kick was brilliantly saved by Eugene Galekovic down low to his right but the winger followed up his shot to turn home the rebound.
2-1 Rose (83’) – Mitchell Duke showed great strength on the edge of the box to hold off the challenge of Craig Goodwin before spotting a lung-busting run of Josh Rose at the far post. Duke picked out his full-back brilliantly, with Rose taking one touch to bring the ball down before sliding it past Galekovic.
New signing Miguel Palanca combined with Pablo Sanchez for Adelaide with the latter unleashing a swerving strike from 25 metres out which Mariners ‘keeper Liam Reddy did well to parry over for a corner. It proved to be a crucial save as just minutes later Fitzgerald equalised before Rose completed the incredible turnaround seven minutes from time.
Mabil is blessed with truckloads of pace but he showed his talent and class in the way he took his goal as well. Cirio’s cross from the right was slightly behind Mabil – who was also under pressure from Mitchell Duke – but he produced a superb turn to find some space before finishing clinically with his left foot. It was a moment of magic from the gifted teenager.
The Reds were in cruise control, seemingly on their way to a well-deserved win until Marrone inexplicably used a hand to block Fitzgerald’s rather tame shot. It gave the home side a lifeline which didn’t look like coming and Adelaide was made to pay big time, throwing away a certain victory inside the last 15 minutes.
Bruce Djite made way on the hour mark just minutes after copping a heavy challenge from Mariners skipper John Hutchinson. The striker’s right ankle was heavily strapped with ice on the bench for the remainder of the contest.
THE FINAL WORD
The Mariners breathed new life into their finals hopes with a courageous win and they will have to build on that with another match at Central Coast Stadium on Friday night against a resurgent Brisbane Roar. Adelaide’s two-game winning streak came to an abrupt end and they will have to try and regroup in time for a clash with league-leaders Perth Glory at Coopers Stadium next Sunday.