The Central Coast Mariners have edged out the Newcastle Jets in an electric, intense derby, featuring goals and plenty of passion.
It was, as expected, a quiet opening to the match with both sides, with vastly different sides from the previous season looking to feel each other out in a more passive, conservative way.
Newcastle played with a high line and looked to compress the play, with the Mariners playing consistent long balls from deep in behind the defence.
But the second half started with a bang, with the opening goal coming just before the 50th minute, after a turnover from Newcastle being capitalised on.
Urena was quick to pounce on the error and slid in a pass to Josh Nisbet in behind down the channel, with the twenty-two-year-old making no mistake in sliding the ball home, scoring the Mariners’ first of the season.
The Mariners doubled their lead in the 57th minute, after a beautiful corner from Cy Goddard – on his weaker foot if you don’t mind – finding the head of debutant Jacob Farrell, with the left-back making no mistake in converting, after struggling to convert a headed opportunity in the first half.
However, Newcastle halved the deficit in the 78th minute, with a pinpoint cross from Angus Thurgate finding the head of substitute Valentino Yuel.
The latter stages of the second half were electric, with both sides displaying their derby passion to the highest of degrees. However, Newcastle just couldn’t find their second goal, and the Mariners collected a win in their first match of the season.
After impressing in the FFA Cup last weekend, left-back Jacob Farrell and central midfielder Max Ballard shone again for the Mariners.
Farrell was a constant outlet down the left for the Mariners, applying width and composure in the final third.
Farrell scored on debut, with a fantastic header after a beautiful corner delivery from Goddard, who was also making his A-League men debut for the Mariners.
The left-back made 53 touches, six interceptions and one tackle during his debut winning four fouls and being dribbled past just twice throughout his 75 minutes on the field.
Meanwhile, Ballard helped set the tempo in midfield, and his defensive positioning allowed Oliver Bozanic to take more of a free role, moving up the field and roaming within pockets and channels.
Despite the plethora of departures in the offseason, the future remains bright for the Mariners, with Farrell and Ballard a positive representation of the positives once more stemming from the Mariners’ youth setup.
PENHA ON POINT
Following on from his stunning freekick in the FFA Cup last weekend, Penha dominated proceedings in the F3 derby, finding consistent space in a roaming, free role.
Strolling around the field with the utmost of class, Daniel Penha had quite the game in his A-League Men’s debut for Newcastle Jets.
He was the key attacking weapon for Newcastle particularly in the first half, striding around the field to help make things happen.
Penha remained subdued in the second half but showed an ability to play the killer ball no matter the circumstances – a key aspect of any good playmaker.
Already, it looks to be a fantastic piece of scouting from Newcastle – Penha is a player who can define games, and just possibly, the outcome of their season.
NISBET AS A NINE?
The versatile Josh Nisbet has found himself as both a central midfielder and a winger/wide attacking midfielder but has never found himself leading the line for the Mariners.
Nisbet was muted in the first half, struggling to adapt to a new position upfront.
With the strike partnership up front last season forming such a key part of the Mariners’ attack, it was worrying to see the lack of combinations between Nisbet and Urena.
However, five minutes into the second half Nisbet proved his worth as an attacking weapon, with the front two blending in classic Central Coast fashion, as Urena slid a ball in behind to his strike partner, with Nisbet clinical in his conversion.
Nisbet moved to the wing with the introduction of the Brazilian Moresche, but it was an interesting tweak from new coach Nick Montgomery.
It remains to be seen whether it could be a tactic replicated throughout the season with Nicolai Muller and Matt Simon coming back into the side, but Nisbet has once again shown his usefulness for the Mariners.
A-League Men Round One, McDonald Jones Stadium
Newcastle Jets 1 (Valentino Yuel 78m)
Central Coast Mariners 2 (Josh Nisbet 50m, Jacob Farrell 57m)