Tenacious Victory match it with Mariners

Central Coast’s winless run has extended to five after being held to a 1-1 draw against a persistent Melbourne Victory outfit.

Matt Simon’s header gave the Mariners the lead early but were pegged back by a stunning second-half strike from Callum McManaman.

The draw puts Central Coast back into second-place on the table but still sit three points behind ladder-leaders Melbourne City.

Victory have continued their mini resurgence under caretaker boss Steve Kean and were arguably unlucky not to have come away with all three points.

The Mariners’ opener came within a matter of minutes as Stefan Nigro’s cross was thumped home by Simon – with his header proving to be too powerful for Matt Acton to keep out.

Acton, and his defence was kept busy in the opening half-hour as Alou Kuol’s stinging volley was met by the firm hands of the Victory shot-stopper.

Melbourne began to work themselves into the game in the final moments of the opening half as Rudy Gestede and Robbie Kruse both came close to finding an equaliser.

Kruse, in particular coming the closest, almost miraculously scoring with an overhead kick which came off the woodwork.

Five minutes after the break, Victory thought they had the leveller as Gestede nodded home but was disallowed due to the striker fouling Kye Rowles as he headed the ball.

Melbourne’s persistence finally paid off as the Mariners failed to clear a Victory set-piece which fell to the feet of McManaman who curled it into the top corner.

Josh Nisbet came close to finding a winner for the Mariners forcing Acton into a reflex save from close-range.

The Melbourne Victory will be pleased with their effort on Sunday. (Photo by Daniel Pockett/Getty Images)Source:Getty Images

KRUSE ALMOST MIRACLE

Robbie Kruse almost opened his A-League account in the most spectacular of circumstances.

After the ball pinballed inside the Victory penalty area, a looping header from Callum McManaman was met by Kruse who while falling backwards, volleyed the ball over his head and off the post.

Most in the crowd thought the ball was going in, chief among them the Melbourne Victory DJ who started playing their ‘goal-tune’ even after the Mariners cleared the ball.

SIMON ON SONG AGAIN

Matt Simon’s career renaissance has been one of the stories of the A-League season.

The 35-year-old continued his incredible campaign, nodding home his ninth goal of the season and despite his age showing he still has what it takes to play a key role in the Mariners’ run into the finals.

Not many strikers have the mix of holdup play and positioning that Simon possesses along with his incredible leadership which has been central to Central Coast’s rise up the table.

ACTON MAN

It’s been a rare case that a Victory goal-keeper would be labelled their ‘Man of the Match’ but in two straight games – Matt Acton has bucked the trend.

The Victory shot-stopper, backed up his superb performance against Sydney FC a matter of days ago with another solid game between the sticks.

Acton produced a variety of smart-stops, in-particular early in the game when the Mariners pushed for their second of the game.

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