The Central Coast Mariners ended their New Year’s eve dreams at the picturesque Gosford Stadium against a resurgent Perth Glory, energised by a shock loss to the Mariners in Perth in November.
The stage was set for a battle of grit and fitness as a sultry 35 degrees Celsius threatened the teams at the 7pm kick off.
First, a moment’s silence was held, in solidarity with those impacted by and fighting the ongoing bushfires across the nation.
Fortunately for the seven thousand odd spectators present the smokey haze from the surrounding bush fires was shielding them from the evening sun.
The game kicked off in a flurry of activity when the young Danny DeSilva formed part of a lighting attack on the Glory’s goal, striking the upright in the opening minute.
As the winds picked up to gale force the iconic sauce bottles were deflated as if to mirror the mood of the game on the field. The sauce bottles have never come down at CC Stadium before. All done for safety reasons. A low flying sauce bottle would never do.
As the half wore on the conditions were having an effect on both sides with any form of decent football restricted by the heavy winds.
Both sides played fast passed football, keeping passes low and direct across the deck. The Perth lads had the lion’s share of possession, though a disciplined Mariners back line was repealing the Glory’s attacks.
Then, a corner from the right was half cleared by Dylan Fox to the edge of the box where a lurking Castro met it with a snapshot into the bottom corner. The crowd was as surprised as the Mariners team as the casualness of the goal.
At half time the Mariners were a goal down, though spirits were high as they would have the advantage of the strong winds in the second half.
Yet, the visitors doubled their lead quickly after the break, as Joel Chianese headed home James Meredith’s cross at the end of a sweeping move.
A combination of Gordon and Birighitti prevented Central Coast from falling further behind, when Fornaroli found space in the home box, forcing the strike out for a corner which came to nothing.
The Glory extended their lead as the game entered it’s final half hour, when Castro made the most of Ziggy Gordon losing his footing to steal the ball away and tee up Fornaroli to fire home from point blank range.
Substitute Jordan Murray had a glorious chance to pull a goal back but it was not to be as his back post header bounced agonisingly wide of goal; before he helped create another chance when Milan Ðurić scooped the ball over the backline for Eunsun Kim to attempt a spectacular overhead kick which also narrowly missed the goal.
There was no further scoring as the game fizzled out through five minutes of stoppage time. As the crowd found out the planned post game fireworks also fizzled out due to the dangerous wind conditions.
Alen Stajcic’s side now turn their attentions to a short turnaround as they travel to face the Phoenix in Wellington on Saturday.
Source: CC Mariners Media Jan 1, 2019, Game report David Abrahams
Coast Community News is a Central Coast Mariners media partner.