ALM Match Report: Central Coast Mariners 4-2 Western United

Lachie Wales Western United

Western United fell to a second-half comeback against Central Coast Mariners, going down 4-2 at Central Coast Stadium on Saturday evening.

Nicolas Milanovic and Connor Pain sent United 2-0 ahead at the interval, but an early red card in the second half to Nikolai Topor-Stanley allowed the hosts a route back in the match.

Jason Cummings pulled the first goal back before a trio of substitutes in Beni N’Kololo, Jacob Farrell and Paul Ayongo completed the comeback.

Team News

John Aloisi was forced into one change to the starting XI with Nicolas Milanovic being drafted in to replace James Troisi, who dropped out with a calf strain.

Western United Academy graduates Rhys Bozinovski and Adisu Bayew were named on the bench for the first time, alongside Alessandro Diamanti for the second straight week.

First Half

The home side very nearly took the lead inside the opening couple of minutes when Jason Cummings’ cross deflected off Leo Lacroix, but Jamie Young was alert on his line to tip the ball over his crossbar.

Central Coast came close again in the seventh minute with a series of successive shots on goal following a corner, but some last ditch defending and an offside call against Cummings’ would-be opener ensured United came out unscathed.

Despite the Mariners’ early pressure, United strung together a superb counter attack to take the lead on 17 minutes.

Ben Garuccio received the ball wide on the left-hand side and played an excellent first-time pass down the line to Connor Pain who pulled the ball across the box for Milanovic to arrive upon and thump into the net for his second goal of the season.

The goal gave United a lift and while consistent strings of possession were still difficult to come by, the visitors were devastating on the counter attack and scored a superb second goal just before the half hour mark.

After a driving run through the centre of the pitch, Milanovic played in Dylan Wenzel-Halls who waited for Pain’s overlapping run before feeding the No.11, watching him bend a delightful strike into the top right corner with his opposite foot.

Young needed to make a smart save from Marco Tulio late in the first-half before smothering Cummings’ follow-up as United carried the 2-0 lead into half-time.

Second Half

The second-half got off to a nightmare start for United as Nikolai Topor-Stanley was shown a straight red card after bringing down substitute Garang Kuol, the VAR upgrading it from the referee’s initial yellow card ruling.

The drama continued as Cummings found the back of the net for the second time in the match soon after, but his curling effort was chalked off as a second ball was on the pitch interfering with play.

It was third time lucky for the Mariners striker, though, as he was on hand to tap the ball home from inside the six-yard box after Kuol’s effort was blocked into his path.

The home side continued to increase the pressure in search of an equaliser and found it in the 74th minute with another close range effort as Beni N’Kololo stretched to divert Cummings’ deflected effort into the net.

Central Coast completed the turnaround thanks to another substitute as Jacob Farrell looped a header past Young and into the top left corner of the net.

The result was all but sealed with two minutes of normal time remaining as Paul Ayongo fired into the roof of the net, condemning United to defeat away from home.