Mariners are spot on

Central Coast captain Panny Nikas netted his ninth goal of the season as the Mariners stayed in top spot on the National Youth League with a 2-1 win over Melbourne at Bluetongue Stadium in Gosford on Saturday afternoon.

Central Coast captain Panny Nikas netted his ninth goal of the season as the Mariners stayed in top spot on the National Youth League with a 2-1 win over Melbourne at Bluetongue Stadium in Gosford on Saturday afternoon.

Nikas slotted home from the penalty spot in the 85th minute after referee Kurt Ams ruled Melbourne goalkeeper Sebastian Mattei pulled down Mariners striker Dylan Macallister.

Melbourne officials were furious with the decision, but Nikas stayed calm and sent Mattei the wrong way to seal the victory.

The Mariners skipper, who was signed to an A-League contract with the club this week, has now scored nine goals in 11 games to be one of the competition's best performers.

Melbourne could have gone equal top with a victory and had chances to take the points.

The Mariners went to the break 1-0 up after Macallister laid on a goal for Brady Smith after 26 minutes.

It was a see-sawing first period with both teams enjoying plenty of good opportunities.

Nathan Elasi was prominent for the visitors, while the Mariners were also dangerous going forward with Macallister heavily involved.

Melbourne started the second half strongly and was rewarded with the equaliser in the 51st minute. Elasi put in a perfectly timed cross and Luke Pilkington was on the spot to score the equaliser at the back post.

The Mariners then had several chances to regain the lead. Macallister should have done better in the 59th minute but shot wide. Not long after Andrew Clark also had a chance but did not hit the target.

Smith also should have scored in the 74th minute after being set up by Macallister.

The teams looked set to share the points before the late penalty from Nikas.

Central Coast 2 (Brady Smith 26, Panny Nikas 85p) Melbourne 1 (Luke Pilkington 51)