Late goals see Glory, Mariners share points

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While Perth Glory are fighting for the top spot on the A-League ladder, the Mariners are fighting to restore pride in the yellow and navy jersey. At the conclusion of Sunday’s game, you might say that one team achieved their goal with a final score of 1-1.

The last 15 minutes of play were action packed, with the men from Perth scoring first. A well-taken corner from Nebojsa Marinkovic in the 79th minute found Jamie McLaren in front of goal, who sent Perth to a 1-0 victory after eight winless games.

Just as it seemed the Mariners were going to concede yet another disappointing loss at home, they reminded fans that they are here to finish the season on a high.

A scramble in front of Perth’s goal saw the ball cleared to the feet of Nick Montgomery, who wasted no time in sending a shot flying past Perth’s custodian, making it a deserved 1-1 draw.

“We felt that the opportunity was there at half time to win the game, and thankfully Monty’s popped up with an absolute screamer at the end which has given everyone a lift,” Mariners technical director Tony Walmsley said after the game.

The Mariners looked the stronger side in the first half, despite what their ladder position might suggest. The yellow and navy dominated play through the midfield and created plenty of opportunities going forward.

Anthony Caceres’ confidence also seems to have grown since the club’s change of direction, what with scoring a goal last week against Adelaide.

“I’m enjoying my football at the moment,” Caceres said before the game.

“Since Tony has come in there has been a new energy around the change room; around the team, and the boys are keen to finish the season strong and I think all that is helping my performance”

It seems the Mariners have embraced their new coaches tactical changes, showcasing some more assertive play in the midfield, and appeared to be looking to go forward as soon as possible.

Nick Fitzgerald was in familiar territory when he came very close to scoring in the 18th minute. A well-distributed ball from Fabio Ferreira found Fitzgerald in the box; his attempt was more slide-tackle than shot, but despite some good hustle the game remained level.

Cernak, Fitzgerald, Caceres and Ferreira were a well-oiled unit in the center of the pitch and although the Mariners weren’t able to put one away, they nevertheless enjoyed a solid period of offense in the first half, somewhat helped along by a shocking period of defense from Perth Glory.

The mariners had another chance to score in the 46th minute, but alas, the hard-working Fitzgerald was unable to keep composure in front of goal, sending his shot soaring well over Jack Duncan’s head.

Hesitation in front of goal has been a major problem for the Mariners this season, one that Walmsley is actively trying to address.

“It was a key focus from the first week I came in, you know, how do we go from the mindset of playing a defensive brand of football to a more proactive style? The quickest way to do that is to ignore the voice in your head which makes you hesitate or second guess,” Tony said.

If there’s one player in the A-League who is hearing that voice in his head, it’s Nick Fitzgerald.

A foul from Perth’s Dino Djublic, who was having a shocking game in defense, won him a yellow card and a free kick for the Mariners. However it was another wasted opportunity from the Yellow and Navy.

The barrage of goals at Glory’s custodian were helped along by some fantastically fancy footwork from Caceres, who seems finally to be living up to the hype surrounding his name.

Djublic, who was already on a yellow, was lucky to escape a red card after taking Cernak down in the 64th minute with a clumsy high tackle, which caught the Mariner in the face. Cernak came off just four minutes later, replaced by youngster Anthony Kalik.

Liam Reddy was forced to make some fingertip saves from the likes of Marinkovic and Garcia, however held onto his record of having the most saves of the season for quite some time before Perth Glory re-entered the game.

A Marinkovic corner found Jamie Maclaren in the box who sent a backwards header straight past Reddy, making it 1-0 in the 79th minute.

The Mariners by this point had nothing to lose, and went hard on attack for the remaining ten minutes.

In the 92nd minute the Mariners prayers were answered in the form of Nick Montgomery, who sent a bullet streaming into the top left corner, taken from outside the box.

There was an audible sigh of relief from Tony Walmsley, as well as a very audible reaction from around the stadium.

The Mariners will face Melbourne Victory next week, away. With only one home game left in the season, ensuring the players have a positive mentality will be key.

“We’ve got a really tough run of games, Wellington away, Victory away twice, Brisbane Roar away and Western Sydney Wanderers at home. So the opportunity is to go and do something special in those games and I’d love for the players to have that experience by the end of the season, to look back on the eight games I’ve been here and to say: ‘Look, we actually did okay,’” said Tony.

Central Coast Mariners starting XI 3. Joshua Rose, 4. Jacob Poscoliero, 5. Zachary Anderson, 7. John Hutchinson (C), 8. Nick Montgomery, 10. Anthony Caceres, 11. Nick Fitzgerald, 12. Liam Reddy (GK), 23. Isaka Cernak, 24. Hayden Morton, 26. Fabio Ferreira

Central Coast Mariners substitutes: 14. Travis Major, 15. Matthew Sim, 16. Liam Rose, 20. Anthony Kalik, 30. Adam Pearce (GK)

Perth Glory starting XI: 6. Dino Djulbic, 8. Ruben Zadkovich, 9. Andrew Keogh, 10. Nebojsa Marinkovic, 11. Richard Garcia, 17. Mitchell Nichols, 18. Jack Duncan, 19. Joshua Risdon, 20. Daniel de Silva, 21. Scott Jamieson, 23. Michael Thwaite (C)

Perth Glory substitutes: 5. Rostyn Griffiths, 15. Jamie McLaren 27. Dragan Paljic, 28. Denis Kramar, 30. Jordan Thurtell (GK)

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