Western United recharged after eight goal thriller

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Western United’s finals charge has been re-stabilised in an eight-goal thriller against the Central Coast Mariners after they defeated them 6-2.

The sense of desperation was palpable at GMHBA Stadium as Western United set their sights on revitalising their finals charge, while Alen Stajcic’s squad were ready to end their six-game losing streak.

Both United and the Mariners had been out of sorts before tonight’s game with Mark Rudan’s squad goalless in their last three games.

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The Mariners’ six game-losing streak started at GMBHA Stadium with a 3-0 loss to United in January.

Unfortunately for the Mariners, history repeated itself with United taking yet another win from them.

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Despite the obvious pressures, the game started with both sides surprisingly aloof, with no big chances within the first opening minutes.

Leave it to the A-League’s all-time goal scorer Besart Berisha to create some excitement for the sparse crowd, as he beautifully found the back of the net in the ninth minute after a superb cross from United skipper Alessandro Diamanti.

Berisha ended United’s dry spell as they inched closer to taking over the Mariners goalless streak of four games in 2017.

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Central Coast was lucky in the 20th minute after United defender Tomi Uskok decided to wave the ball away from the goal square and Central Coast forward Chris Harold evened out the score after his penalty found the bottom of the net.

With newfound confidence, United did not let the equaliser keep them down for long after Max Burgess scored his first-ever A-League goal after Gianni Stensness lost the ball in front of his own net in the 25th minute.

Burgess was not finished scoring and his second A-League goal arrived only five minutes later after United forward Connor Pain backheeled to Burgess.

United, almost trying to make up for their past goalless games, wer not done. After not scoring in 45 games Burgess secured his third goal for United.

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As Berisha tore through the Mariners’ defensive third and took his own chance at goal, Burgess tapped the deflection into the back of the net.

In a game of firsts, Gianni Stensness secured his first-ever A-League goal in the 45th minute trying to catch up to United’s lead. Michael McGlinchey took a corner which Stensness right-footed into the bottom of the box.

The desperation and fierceness did not dissipate into the second half. United and Central Coast found themselves in a chasm in the middle of the pitch for the first opening minutes as both teams tried to regain possession.

Ultimately United were victorious after Diamanti won a corner in the 61st minute. In the build-up in front of the penalty box, Andrew Durante found the back of the net despite Mark Birighitti getting a hand to it.

VAR decided to make an appearance, but allowed the goal to stand as it had crossed the line

The strong start to life slowly dwindled as energy levels began to drop towards the end of the second half, but not too low for Berisha to score his second for the night making the Mariners loss more unbearable.

Western United 6 (Berisha 9’ 89′, Burgess 25’ 30’ 43’, Durante 61’)
Central Coast Mariners 2 (Harold 19’, Stensness 45’)
GMHBA Stadium, Geelong

Referee: Ben Abraham
Assistant Referee 1: Wilson Brown
Assistant Referee 2: Andrew Meimarakis
Fourth Official: Adam Bavcar
VAR: Chris Beath

Western United:

Filip Kurto (GK), Andrew Durante, Tomoki Imai, Steven Lustica, Connor Pain, Max Burgess, Besart Berisha, Josh Risdon, Tomislav Uskok, Alessandro Diamanti (C), Jerry Skotadis, Johnathon Aspropotamis (70’), Josh Cavallo (78′), Luke Duzel (90′)

Unused Subs:

Ryan Scott (GK), Dylan Pierias, Apostolos Stamatelopoulous, Dario Jertec

Central Coast Mariners:

Mark Birighitti (GK), Ian Zygmunt Gordon, Jack Clisby, Eunsun Kim (C), Michael McGlinchey, Jordan Murray, Kye Rowles, Gianni Stensness, Ruon Tongyik, Chris Harold, Josh Nisbet, Milan Duric (45’), Matt Simon (63’), Alou Koul (72’)

Unused Subs:

 Adam Pearce (GK), Daniel DeSilva, Jair Britto, Lewis Miller

Feature Image Credit: Western United

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Suzanna Telai
Football enthusiast and student journalist, covering Western United for the 2019/20 A-League season