History did not repeat itself for National Premier Leagues NSW Men’s outfit Blacktown City as Mark Crittenden’s men put up a heroic display which wasn’t enough after bowing out of the Round of 32 FFA Cup competition with a 1-0 loss to A-League outfit Central Coast Mariners on Saturday in Mudgee.
Played at the wonderful Glen Willow Stadium, Blacktown City fought hard but were unable to contest with a hungry Mariners outfit who ended up coming home with the victory thanks to a goal from debutant Béni Nkololo.
In the wet and windy wine region, Mariners Head Coach Nick Montgomery named a strong starting line up that included a start at centre-back for Lewis Miller as well as a competitive debut for 18-year-old Jacob Farrell.
City fielded a strong line-up minus new recruit Mitch Mallia who was ruled out with injury. Crittenden gave starting opportunities to Ben Berry and Nicholas O’Brien while Jordan Smylie made his debut for his new club where he faced his old teammates.
Through the opening minutes the Mariners dominated much of the play and created many chances.
Miller who has just recently returned from Australian U23 duty had an early claim for a penalty waved away by referee Kurt Ams when he was brought down in the box by ex-Mariners player Jordan Smylie. No penalty was awarded, however moments later, Nkololo continued to be industrious down the left wing and set up Marco Ureña for a chance, before Matt Simon had a shot strongly palmed away by Tristan Prendergast in the City net.
It would not be Prendergast’s last act however as he made a fantastic save later in the half to deny an Ollie Bozanic through on goal, with a strong 1-on-1 save.
As the wind picked up, both teams headed for the heat of the changing rooms and in the second half, Nick Montgomery’s men enjoyed possession of the ball and continued to dominate the match.
Ollie Bozanic was foiled not once but twice more by Prendergast who was beginning to output a man of the match performance in goal after clawing out two identical free-kicks that were destined for the top corner.
In the 76th minute, the dead-lock was finally broken however, as Béni Nkololo was put through on goal and struck the ball past the City keeper to the immediate delight of the travelling Yellow Army who embraced the Frenchman behind the goal. A new fan favourite who’s name continued to be sung through the remaining minutes as the Mariners continued to create more chances with debutant Moresche going close as well as Nkololo for his second. The team from the Central Coast held on however, to run out 1-0 winners.
Progression was the aim of the afternoon and having achieved that, the Mariners will now turn their attention to the start of the Isuzu UTE A-League season in the F3 Derby.
From an NPL NSW Men’s perspective, Wollongong Wolves will be finding out their fate when the Round of 16 fixtures are set to be announced on Monday 15th of November while there are still two teams yet to play their Round of 32 matches with Sydney Olympic hosting Sydney FC and APIA Leichhardt taking on Tigers FC on Wednesday 24th of November.