Connor Pain bagged a brace against his former club but it was a case of too little, too late against a clinical Melbourne Victory, headlined by hat-trick-hero, Besart Berisha.
Melbourne Victory 5 (George 15’, Berisha 25’, 54’ & 74’ & Theoharous 83’) Central Coast Mariners 2 (Pain 87’ & 97’)
The run down
The Yellow & Navy started both halves in the driver’s seat and finished the game strongly with two goals to Connor Pain but Victory made the most of their opportunities across the 90 minutes to move into third spot.
The opening stages went all in favour of the Mariners who should have been a goal up in the third minute of play. It started with a pinpoint through ball from Andrew Hoole to Pain to earn a corner. The corner fell to the feet of Antony Golec who fired at goal, beat a diving Lawrence Thomas but it was somehow cleared off the line by Rhys Williams to keep it 0-0.
But in the 15th minute, Berisha would chip in to hurt the Mariners when he assisted Leroy George for the opening goal. George made no mistake with his one-on-one opportunity to give Melbourne Victory a 1-0 lead.
10 minutes later, the Albanian and Dutchman linked up again to double the Victory’s lead with George assisting Berisha in the 25th minute.
It was a horror end to the first half when Golec awkwardly collided with Victory’s goalkeeper Lawrence Thomas. Golec was treated on the spot by paramedics and taken straight from the field to play no further part in the match.
The Mariners came out flying in the second half, keeping all the ball and creating all the chances. The Yellow & Navy looked certain to score in the 51st minute when a ball from Pain found the head of McGing, McGing’s header across goal was straight at Powell who looked certain to head home, but the effort was wide.
Despite a dominant start to the second half by the Mariners, Victory had their third in the 54th minute and Berisha had his brace. 20 minutes later the Albanian headed home for his hat-trick.
In the final 10 minutes of play, substitute Christian Theoharous found the back of the net and Victory’s fifth goal of the night.
Then in the 87th minute, Mariners’ substitute Trent Buhagiar created something from nothing down the right wing with his blistering speed. He found himself in behind the Victory back four and Pain was on the back post to get on the scoresheet for the Mariners.
In the 7th minute of stoppage time Pain pulled the trigger on a sensational volley from distance to emphatically earn the first brace of his Hyundai A-League career.
The Mariners’ full focus now turns to next Saturday night where they host Sydney FC at Central Coast Stadium. Kick-off is 5:35pm.
15’ GEORGE (1-0): Berisha played creator, threading a perfect ball to a charging George. Clinically, George made his way toward goal and pulled the trigger on an impressive strike into Ben Kennedy’s bottom corner.
25’ BERISHA (2-0): The combination of George and Berisha paid dividends again 10 minutes later. This time George found Berisha at the top of the box who composed himself to double his side’s lead.
54’ BERISHA (3-0): Berisha had his second goal of the night when it was put on a platter by James Troisi in the box.
74’ BERISHA (4-0): Antonis looped a cross to the back post where an unmarked Berisha was on hand to head home.
83’ THEOHAROUS (5-0): A pinpoint diagonal cross from Williams hit the feet of Theoharous on the edge of the box. With plenty to do, the young attacker placed his shot perfectly off the upright and in.
87’ PAIN (5-1): Buhagiar flew down the right wing and into space before delivering a dangerous cross into the box. It evaded a charging Danny De Silva in the box but a composed Pain made sure the cross wouldn’t go unrewarded and fired it into the back of the net.
97’ PAIN (5-2): Pain took the Mariners’ attack into his own hands in the dying stages when he let trip on a stunning volley. Assisted by the slightest of deflections, Pain’s strike flew into the top corner, giving Thomas no chance to make a save.
Paolo in the press
(Injury update on Golec…)
“I just spoke to the Physio and it’s obviously not good,” Okon said. “We’re not certain exactly what it is, but it could be a fracture of his tibia which isn’t good news. He’s now at hospital.
(Taking your chances against a clinical Victory…)
“We worked all week on transition moments and rest defence because we know that Victory are the best when it comes to punishing you when you make mistakes. Their top four are clinical and that’s exactly how it went.
“I don’t think Ben Kennedy made a save. Victory had five moments in front of goal and scored five goals. We had just as many, if not more. We only managed to score two.
“Victory deserved to win, but I think we deserved to score more goals than we did.
“I’m happy for Connor that he scored two goals. We never seem to get gifted goals, every one of them this season we’ve had to work ever so hard for.
“Victory have a front four that don’t miss opportunities – that’s why they are one of the best clubs in the country.
(Injury update on Tom Hiariej…)
“He’s seen the specialist and the finding was inconclusive. He’s set for another scan early this week and we will await the final result but that also doesn’t look good, he could potentially be finished for the season.
(Focus of the final rounds…)
“We need to continue to work hard like we’ve done all season. We approach the next game against Sydney no different than we approached today’s game.
“At times we were really good with the ball. We created opportunities to score, that hasn’t been any different in (I would say) than 95% of our games this season. But, you have to have that quality to be able to convert those opportunities into goals which translates into winning games, more points, higher up the ladder.
“We finish the game with a 19-year-old left centre back, a 20-year-old right centre back, a 19-year-old striker. Danny De Silva has just turned 21. I reckon I wouldn’t be far off saying that our average age would have been close to 21/22. That’s where the club is at the moment, it gives those opportunities and we will continue to do that," Okon said.
Melbourne Victory: 20.Lawrence THOMAS (Gk), 4.Rhys WILLIAMS, 6.Leigh BROXHAM, 8.Besart BERISHA, 9.Kosta BARBAROUSES, 10.James TROISI (24.Terry ANTONIS 72’), 14. Thomas DENG (22.Stefan NIGRO 60’), 17.James DONACHIE, 18.Matias SANCHEZ (31.Christian THEOHAROUS 79’), 21.Carl VALERI (C), 41.Leroy GEORGE
Substitutes not used: 1.Matt ACTON (Gk) &7.Kenny ATHIU,
Yellow Cards: Sanchez 32’ & George 78’
Central Coast Mariners: 1.Ben KENNEDY(gk), 2.Storm ROUX, 4.Jake McGING, 5.Antony GOLEC (21.Kye ROWLES 38’), 7.Andrew HOOLE, 8.Blake POWELL (12.Trent BUHAGIAR 78’), 10.Danny De SILVA, 11.Connor PAIN, 16.Liam ROSE 19.Jacob POSCOLIERO (22.Jacob MELLING 78’), 23.Wout BRAMA,
Substitutes not used: 18.Tom GLOVER (gk) & 27.Peter SKAPETIS
Yellow Cards: nil
Sunday, 18 March 2018
AAMI Park, Melbourne
Melbourne Victory vs. Central Coast Mariners