Ruiz-Diaz double helps Mariners finish on a high

The Central Coast Mariners finished off their season in style on Monday night, as a late double from Dylan Ruiz-Diaz gave them a stunning 3-2 win over Melbourne Victory at Kogarah.

Ruiz-Diaz came off the bench to score twice for Alen Stajcic’s side, after Dylan Fox had earlier pulled them level following Marco Rojas’ opener.

Stajcic made only one change to the side that drew with the Wanderers last week, as Jack Clisby replaced Ruiz-Diaz in the starting side shifting Tommy Oar higher up the pitch.

Matt Simon caused plenty of problems up front for the hosts but it was Victory who took the lead when Rojas capitalised on an error at the back to slot home after Sam Silvera appeared to be fouled in midfield.

Simon again had a chance but he flashed a header past the post, and there was a penalty shout on the stroke of half-time when Oar’s cross appeared to strike the hand of Broxham and Silvera’s follow up hit the post.

It took just three second half minutes for an equaliser though as Milan Djuric floated a looping free-kick to the back post and after outmuscling his marker, Fox fired through two sets of legs to bring his side level.

The Mariners took charge for much of the second half but it was the Victory who struck again, going the length of the field before Rojas curled an effort past Mark Birighitti after Fox had a header clawed out of the goal by Matt Acton.

Ruiz-Diaz made his starting debut just last week, and he nabbed his first A-League goal with five minutes to play as he smashed an effort into the top corner after being played through by Oar, and brought the Mariners back level.

And just five minutes later the comeback was complete, this time Djuric played a perfect ball through to the youngster and he took a touch before running across goal and firing back past Acton to grab his second goal and the Mariners third.

A strong effort was still needed through the closing minutes that featured a debut appearance from Louis Khoury, but the Mariners hung on to finish their season on a high.