Central Coast Mariners put in a commanding performance to defeat Western Sydney Wanderers 3-0 at CommBank Stadium on Saturday night.
Comfortably the home side’s best on the evening, Lawrence Thomas made several key saves to keep his side in the contest, as they struggled to create many chances of their own.
The visitors had the better of the opening minutes, without really threatening Thomas’s goal.
Central Coast’s strike partnership, Jason Cummings and Paul Ayongo, were sniffing around but failed to get any clean strikes away.
Western Sydney looked to play on the counter-attack whenever gaining possession.
As the half wore on, the Mariners began to set up camp down in the Wanderers’ end but again failed to penetrate Marko Rudan’s stingy defence.
Thomas felt his crossbar reverberate from a deflected header but the ball went safely out for a Central Coast corner.
When the home side were able to get some sustained possession, their attack looked clunky. Wanderers looked infinitely better in transition with Central Coast unable to set themselves properly.
There was a flashpoint when Beni Nkololo appeared to leave an elbow in on Calem Nieuwenhof in a duel. Wanderers players were baying for a yellow card but Kurt Ams did not oblige.
Cummings went very close with a header in first-half stoppage time but again was denied by Thomas. The gloveman just refused to be beaten.
As the two sides went to the break locked at 0-0, there was a feeling that there was a lot more to come after a tepid opening stanza.
The first big chance of the second half fell to Cummings, who found himself bearing down for a one-on-one against Thomas but the Wanderers defence managed to scramble back and take all the power out of the Socceroo’s strike.
As the Mariners continued to control the game, the pressure finally told and the yellow and navy took the lead through substitute Michael Ruhs after Garang Kuol’s press forced a Wanderers mistake.
Before long the visitors were two to the good with the effervescent Kuol a vital part of the move again, laying on an assist for Ruhs’ second tally of the night.
The icing was well and truly put on the cake by Samuel Silvera who made it 3-0, beating Thomas with a thunderous drive from distance.
Mocking chants of “We want four” emanated from the away end as Western Sydney were now well and truly beaten with the final minutes ticking down.
Only Thomas’s right upright denied Jason Cummings from adding a fourth goal and making it a really awful night for Western Sydney.
It finished 3-0 as the Wanderers were dealt their first loss of 2022-23.
Are Wanderers for real in 2022-23?
After five games unbeaten for Western Sydney to open the season, they’ve finally suffered their first loss. Their stingy defence has had a lot to do with their good early form, but the floodgates were opened today after the first goal could be attributed to an individual error.
The attack is still yet to fire on all cylinders this campaign and was especially toothless against the Mariners.
The final game for Marko Rudan’s side before the World Cup hiatus is the always fiery Sydney Derby, next Saturday evening at Allianz Stadium. This clash serves as a real litmus test for a Wanderers side who are looking good to finally deliver some success for their long-suffering fans.
Western Sydney miss Yengi’s impact
Kusini Yengi has always been a huge talent, dating back to when he burst on the scene at Coopers Stadium with Adelaide United. It’s been a mixed bag for him so far under Rudan – we’ve seen flashes of brilliance but it’s been his finishing that has let the forward down so far in this campaign.
For today’s fixture Rudan went with Ramy Najjarine to partner Sulejman Krpić in the starting 11, with Yengi not fit enough for a place amongst the substitutes with a minor injury. He’s expected to be available for selection next week as Western Sydney battle cross-town rivals Sydney FC in the first derby at the new Allianz Stadium.
In other injury news for Wanderers, Oliver Bozanic is unlikely to feature in next week’s Sydney Derby, while Yeni Ngbakoto will have a chance to prove his fitness.
Mariners can be even more clinical
Though they didn’t concede this time, Nick Montgomery must’ve had déjà vu watching his charges dominate possession and chances but ultimately fail to make their advantage count on the scoreboard in the first half. It didn’t hurt them in the end either last week or tonight, but if they continue to waste golden chances against good sides, Montgomery’s men will be made to pay eventually.
Structurally, the Central Coast defence has looked solid, and they’re not conceding a raft of goals every week by any means. They’ve been doing a great job of controlling possession and launching attacks, and it’s two weeks in a row now that they’ve been extremely clinical in the second half of a game.
The Mariners host Macarthur next week at Central Coast Stadium, and they’ll want to ensure they’ve got their shooting boots on because there are definitely goals in Dwight Yorke’s Bulls side.
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