Five goal Mariners shake off the cobwebs

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Three goals before the break were added to by a pair in the second for the visitors, with new recruit Dylan Macallister starring with a double, in addition to single contributions from Damien Brown, Bradley Porter and Sasho Petrovski.
In response, Spirit FC reduced the deficit to just the one goal midway through the second half after Daniel Cunningham?s penalty and substitute Paul Orgad?s strike.
The Mariners? line up for  this fixture was a virtual replica of the experimental eleven that was held to a 0-0 stalemate by the Central Coast Lighting one week earlier, though on this occasion, the yellow and navy?s class ultimately tolled against an enthusiastic opponent.
The Central Coast?s performance was all the more credible given the deluge of rain that greeted the team upon their arrival at the ground.
Such was the severity of the downpour, the usually slick Christie Park surface was blemished by several pockets of surface water minutes only minutes before kick off, reducing the chances of a free-flowing exhibition between the two traditional pre-season rivals.
However, the football showcase delivered by the Mariners and the Spirit more than matched the rapidly improving weather conditions that would follow, with both sides intent on entertainment to the tune of seven well worked goals that were sandwiched by a string of top-class saves at either end.
“The first half was great, we were up 3-0 at halftime and their ?keeper pulled off a few great saves, but our movement was good and our support was good and our finishing was good,” said Mariners Football Manager Lawrie McKinna.
“Giving away that early penalty in the second half gave Spirit FC a bit of a lift, but overall it was a good run, the boys got through it and played very well.”
Leading into the match, an overwhelming positive for Mariners Members and supporters was the pending return to competitive football for wingback flyer Dean Heffernan.
Equally, the overwhelming disappointment of the night was that in Heffernan?s first start since breaking his leg in December of last year, the Qantas Socceroo prospect was withdrawn from proceedings with just 14 minutes on the clock after a challenge on the very leg that has been rehabilitated over the past five months.
As such, Heffernan was replaced by triallist David D?Apuzzo immediately as a precaution, though is expected to resume full training by the end of the week.
By the time of Heffernan?s substitution, Macallister had already opened the Mariners? account for the evening and also his personal account in yellow and navy after slamming home the final movement of a John Hutchinson?s short corner.
Macallister was an ever-present threat to the Spirit FC backline throughout the match, utilising his strength and aerial prowess to great effect alongside both Adam Kwasnik and Petrovski.
Local veteran Damien Brown, another strong first half performer, doubled the Mariners? advantage some six minutes after Macallister?s opener by heading home a precisely weighted cross from Ahmad Elrich.
Brown turned provider for Bradley Porter midway through the half to complete the quick fire first half goal scoring frenzy ? the Australian youth international producing a clinical finish on the volley from Brown?s pinpoint centre.   
The home side clawed back to within one goal of the reigning Hyundai A-League Premiers by the 68th minute, only for Petrovski and then Macallister to make sure of the result with a pair of quality finishes in the closing stages.
“It was a good performance tonight from Dylan, he was dominant in the air, held the ball up well, got in the box when needed and got goals ? I think Dylan has got a lot of goals in him,” said McKinna.
“Our numbers are down at the moment and when we travel to Queensland we?ll need to take a couple of triallists with us and the good news is that Matthew Osman is back in full training, so hopefully he?ll be due to play a game soon.
“Things are coming together well, but our core of eleven to twelve players are doing well at the moment.”
The Mariners? pre-season trial match program continues in central Queensland next week, firstly against the Capricorn Cougars at Jardine Park on Friday, 6 June and lastly against the Whitsunday Miners at Harrup Park on Sunday, 8 June.
Upon the Mariners? return to the Central Coast, the yellow and navy will take on northern rivals the Newcastle Jets in a Hyundai A-League Grand Final replay at Budgewoi?s Frank Millington Field on Saturday, 21 June. Kick off is at 2.45pm and entry for all spectators is a gold coin.
Match Details
Central Coast Mariners 1. Matthew Trott (gk), 4. Ian McAndrew, 5. Bradley Porter, 7. John Hutchinson, 8. Dean Heffernan, 11. Damien Brown, 15. Andrew Clark, 18. Alex Wilkinson, 19. Adam Kwasnik, 21. Ahmad Elrich, 27. Dylan Macallister
Substitutes 2. David D?Apuzzo, 6. Brendan Gan, 13. Nathan Sherlock, 16. Nigel Boogaard, 22. Sasho Petrovski
Yellow Cards None
Red Cards None
Goals Macallister 9?, 86?, Brown 15?, Porter 25?, Petrovski 84?
Spirit FC 1. Murray Nelson (gk), 3. Josh De Kelly, 4. Paul Nicolaou, 5. Glenn Littlebury, 6. Matt Peatey, 8. Ross Kethel, 11. Daniel Findlay, 13. Joseph Ciano, 18. Daniel Cunningham, 20. Leonardo Papanicolaou, 29. Tuan Cao
Substitutes 10. Adam Peatey, 12. Steve Gray, 14. Paul Orgad, 16. Aaron Drinkwater, 23. Matt Roberts, 27. Rob Morrison, 40. Sevag Jambazian (gk)
Yellow Cards None
Red Cards None
Goals Cunningham 52?P, Orgad 68?
Referee Matthew Gillett