Mariners upset Sky Blues

Two late goals have given the Central Coast Mariners a dramatic 2-1 come-from-behind win over Sydney FC in the National Youth League at Budgewoi Soccer Club on Saturday afternoon.

Two late goals have given the Central Coast Mariners a dramatic 2-1 come-from-behind win over Sydney FC in the National Youth League at Budgewoi Soccer Club on Saturday afternoon.

The visitors opened the match brightly enough, and took a first-half lead through striker Justin Hayward, but a gutsy effort in the second period saw the Mariners claw their way to a deserved three competition points.

Goals in the final 16 minutes to Mitchell Mallia and the athletic Bernie Ibini-Isei ultimately sealed the victory for the Central Coast.

Serious injury unfortunately struck the home side in the 24th minute, though, when midfielder Alex Mansueto was stretchered from the pitch with a dislocated shoulder.

One minute later and Sydney FC would take the lead when Peter Simonoski picked up the ball deep inside the Mariners half before slipping the ball to Hayward. The lanky number 9 duly finished off the opportunity by knocking the ball neatly over onrushing goalkeeper Nik Matic.

The Mariners almost provided the perfect response in the 29th minute when livewire striker Ibini-Isei went on a mazy run before squaring the ball to James Oates inside the penalty area.

The dynamic midfielder, however, blazed his first-time strike over the bar, allowing the visitors to go into the break with a one goal advantage.

It was the home side that would dictate the tempo in the early stages of the second stanza though, and substitute Max Glanville almost levelled matters just five minutes into the half when he volleyed a Marc Warren corner from 20 yards out, only to see his effort whisk past the left post.

With quarter of an hour remaining, the Mariners would get their equaliser after a fine strike by Mallia restored parity. After receiving the ball on the edge of the area, the left winger saw FC goalkeeper Dylan Mitchell off his line and effortlessly chipped the ball over the helpless shotstopper and into the back of the net.

The dramatic comeback was then completed on 81 minutes when the Mariners caught Sydney on the counter-attack, and the influential Mallia played in Ibini-Isei to race goalward before slamming home the winner with a fierce left-footed strike, giving Mitchell no chance.

The valiant victory lifts the Mariners off the foot of the National Youth League ladder, but still behind Sydney FC on goal difference.

Central Coast Mariners: 2 (Mallia 74', Ibini-Isei 81') Sydney FC: 1 (Hayward 25')