Mariners and Wanderers put on a show in four-goal draw

Western Sydney Wanderers and Central Coast Mariners shared the spoils in an entertaining 2-2 draw of finals-like intensity at Industree Group Stadium.

From the outset, both sides were intent on attacking the ball and played at a high standard as they jostled for second spot on the ladder. 

But neither could strike the knockout blow after the Mariners equalised with 17 minutes to play.

In his first game against his old side, Oli Bozanic appeared intent on giving the Wanderers an early advantage and had the first shot on target for the evening inside 45 seconds.

Mariners goalkeeper Danny Vukovic took flight to punch the strike away.

Despite the Wanderers’ early intensity up forward, the Mariners drew first blood after Marco Tulio began to take charge for the home side.

Sammy Silvera pierced a gap in the Wanderers’ defensive wall with a left-footed strike from just outside the 12-yard box in the 30th minute.

But five minutes later, his effort was matched by Wanderers forward Yeni Ngbakoto, who swivelled around inside the box to tap the ball past Vukovic with his heel.

With the scores level, Bozanic remained the Wanderers’ favourite attacking option.

The ex-Socceroo appeared intent on sticking it to the Mariners after coach Nick Montgomery began overlooking him for selection last season, and was in everything in attack.

The Gosford crowd booed him as he left the pitch at half-time with the scores tied, and then again when he checked out of the game midway through the second half.

The Wanderers had the lead when substitute Aidan Simmons connected with Brandon Borrello, who beat Brian Kaltak to score their second from just inside the box.

GOSFORD, AUSTRALIA – JANUARY 28: Brandon Borello of Western Sydney celebrates his goal (with Referee in frame) during the round 14 A-League Men’s match between Central Coast Mariners and Western Sydney Wanderers at Central Coast Stadium, on January 28, 2023, in Gosford, Australia. (Photo by Ashley Feder/Getty Images)

The Mariners needed a response, and Socceroo Jason Cummings provided one when he was injected into the game.

After a Mariners free-kick, the ball ricocheted from teammate Nectarios Triantis, onto Cummings’ chest, and into the net. The Scottish-born striker had his eighth goal of the season.

Neither side was intent to play for the draw and the Mariners had one last chance when they were paid a free kick for Adama Traore’s handball just outside the box.

Christian Theoharous’ shot struck the crossbar but did not continue on to the net and the scoreline stood at 2-2.