Fresh from defeating Scottish giants Celtic and securing a draw against the Young Socceroos, the Central Coast Mariners downed Belconnen United five-nil in front of nearly a thousand local fans yesterday. Braving freezing conditions, the Mariners dominated from the off and knocked up a number of goals in the first half.
The encounter came after a trip to the Kanga Cup earlier in the day, where Central Coast stars signed autographs and watched on as teams from around Australia, Asia and Oceania battled it out. The competition has been the breeding ground for much A-League and W-League talent.
At McKellar stadium, Belconnen United got an early surprise when the Mariners put the ball in the back of the net after only one minute. But a second ball on the pitch, just in front of the keeper, saw the goal disallowed.
The Mariners dominated early, with no real competition from the local side. A goal from Rostyn Griffiths in the 15th minute consolidated the advantage, and despite a small fight back from Belconnen, the game was already in the Mariners’ hands.
Central Coast’s Michael Baird should have had several goals early, but took until the 35th minute to open his account, firing from a tight angle to take the score to two-nil.
Four minutes later a cracking curler over the keeper’s head from Pedj Bojic moved things along to three-nil, despite a slight deflection from a Belconnen defender.
At half time the Mariners should have been winning by six or seven, but a solid display from the Belconnen keeper and a few poorly timed shots saw the A-League side only three up.
While several substitutions from Central Coast mixed things up, the second half petered out, with the side once again dominating but with little more to say for it on the scoreboard. While Belconnen showed signs of improvement, the side failed to make it past keeper Justin Pasfield.
Just when it looked like the game was said and done, substitute Matt Simon laid on to Baird for his double, before the striker rounded out the scoring in the 84th minute, adding a third to his tally.
The game also raised significant funds for the Cancer Council’s Call to Arms campaign, with fans being asked to donate at the entrance.
The Mariners play Canberra FC on Thursday night at 7pm, before heading back to warmer climes. The side will also be at the Kanga Cup at 11am-12pm on the same day, watching the largest youth competition in the Southern Hemisphere.
Senior Contributor Kieran Pender is with the Mariners at their training camp in Canberra, bringing ggarmy.com the latest news, interviews and photos from the pre-season trip.