A wonder goal by Marco Tulio helped the Mariners claim a 3-0 victory over the Jets in Wednesday night’s round one replay. It means Newcastle have now lost five of their last six games after starting the season on fire.
It was a complete reversal of the fixture 10 days earlier, with the Mariners dominating the Jets across the park. Tulio toyed with the Newcastle side early in proceedings before spotting goalkeeper Jack Duncan off his line and scoring from more than 40 metres out.
Central Coast continued to pile on the pressure, firing nine shots to Newcastle’s three in the opening term. Socceroos duo Jason Cummings and Garang Kuol combined to terrorise the visitors’ defenders.
The Jets managed to play out the remainder of the first half without conceding a second, giving themselves a chance at redemption. They closed the opening 45 minutes with 58 per cent possession without a shot on target to trouble the hosts.
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The second half provided little solace for Jets fans, as their side started with enormous energy and found multiple runs behind the Mariners’ defence but struggled to find the final pass. Talisman Beka Mikeltadze had his shot blocked on the goal line in the 48th minute.
Just as Newcastle’s pressure felt to be building to a head, Central Coast found a goal against the momentum. Tulio again found himself with the ball and played through to Cummings who made little mistake to double the Mariners’ lead with half an hour to play.
N’Kololo found himself at the penalty spot in the dying moments after a Mark Natta handball to put the final nail in the coffin of a 3-0 Mariners victory. Mikeltadze had a chance in the 94th minute to consolidate the loss, but looked uninterested and made half an attempt at the bouncing ball.
Coach Arthur Papas continued his war path with the league over the state of pitches. He commented on the softness of McDonald Jones stadium last Friday after it hosted the Motocross, and said Wednesday night’s offering wasn’t much of an improvement.
“I think this game, we probably lost on Friday night,” Papas told the media after the game.
“We’re putting our club in compromised positions, we lost Brandon O’Neill because of a pitch. The opposition coach called it a cow paddock.
“Tonight’s pitch wasn’t much better, to be honest. The league needs to look at why games were being played on this pitch to begin with.”
Papas didn’t read too much into the result, he believes it’s an inaccurate reflection of his side’s progress so far this season. Instead, he’s looking to keep the group together as they build towards the new year.
“I actually see a lot of improvement,” he said.
“A result will tell you tonight was a poor performance no matter what happened. We did a lot of good things tonight, sure, maybe in the key moments tonight we weren’t good enough.
“There were a few things out on that pitch tonight that I’m scratching my head about in terms of officiating.
“We’ll just get together tomorrow [Thursday] and talk about it, we won’t lose belief, I don’t lose belief.
“I’m pretty confident in what needs to happen to get results.”
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