The Central Coast Mariners ended an 18-match run without a win over Melbourne Victory on Sunday night, with two stoppage time penalties lifting them over the visitors at Central Coast Stadium.
Jordan Murray cancelled Kristijan Dobras’ opener to level scores at the half before Adama Traore’s cross deflected in off Kye Rowles to give Melbourne the lead once more, but substitute Matt Simon netted two penalties late in the game to seal the victory.
The hosts forced the first half chance of the game when Gianni Stensness found the room to slide a ball behind Victory’s backline but the pass beat Murray as well and ran through to a grateful Lawrence Thomas in the Melbourne net.
But it took only eight minutes for the Victory to go ahead, as a clever pass from Jakob oulsen found Dobras in space and the forward turned well before unleashing an effort towards goal that took a wicked deflection off a defender and wrong footed Mark Birighitti as it went in.
The Mariners had a close shave nine minutes before the break when Poulsen blasted over from close range under intense pressure from Ziggy Gordon after Robbie Kruse had his initial strike deflected away from target.
After subduing the visitors search for a second the match turned on its head just before half time, as Lewis Miller found space down the right to float a cross in and Murray rose highest in the middle to nod home past Thomas.
The hosts thought they had the lead when Kye Rowles netted off a corner seven minutes in to the second half, only to see it chalked off shortly after by VAR for an apparent offside.
A week after making his 250th Hyundai A-League appearance Matt Simon entered the field for Jair in the 63rd minute and was straight into the action.
Tommy Oar’s high ball into the box towards the Mariners skipper looked dangerous and Simon appeared to be bundled over underneath it, but no penalty was the decision and the Victory rode their luck to take the lead with just over 10 minutes to play.
A looping cross from Adama Traore crashed off the back post before finding its way into the net via Rowles who had no time to react, and the night looked to be heading for a dour finish for the Mariners.
With luck seemingly not on their side the Mariners determination never dwindled and Danny De Silva finished a fine passing move with a slick volley which found the wrong side of the net for the Mariners before being replaced by Michael McGlinchey.
As the clock ran down the hosts continued to push and their effort was rewarded when, following a long VAR check, they were awarded a penalty for a hand ball by Leigh Broxham.
Simon stepped up and fired the ball past Thomas to level things up and moments later as they pushed forward again McGlinchey was brought down amidst a group of Victory players and a spot kick was awarded.
Simon again moved forward to take it and crashed his effort off the crossbar and in to give the Mariners the match winning lead and score his 50th goal in Mariners colours.
Attention for Alen Stajcic’s side now moves to next weekend and a second meeting of the season with Western United.