A three-goal barrage in the final 10 minutes of the game was enough for the Central Coast Mariners to overcome a spirited Canberra United side in their Foxtel NYL clash at the AIS on Saturday.
The match started in the worst possible way for the hosts as Matias Paz headed home a great cross at the back post to give the Mariners the lead, and United a grim outlook.
But United rallied and began to build from the back, with strong passing helping them to play out from the defence around the Mariners press.
Josh Gulevski was proving dangerous up front as he created a couple of thwarted chances, but it was Roko Strika who pulled United level as he burst through the visiting defence in the 12th minute and fired past Jack Greenwood in goals.
Greenwood saved well from Antoni Timotheou’s fizzing effort shortly after, before play was halted as United live wire Daniel Fabrizio was forced from the field with a knee injury.
United failed to reset properly as play restarted, and the Mariners took full advantage as Peter Kekeris bundled home a loose ball in the area to restore the one-goal advantage.
It took only six minutes for United to gain parity once more though, as Jack Green followed up a brilliant defensive block with a thumping back post header to level up the scores at half-time.
Mikey Katsoulis came out of the blocks strong in the second half as he looked to cause trouble down the wing, while Finn Jurak made some strong saves to keep out the Mariners early.
They would only be denied for so long though, and Paz had his second six minutes into the half as a good team move saw the ball squared to him for an easy finish past Jurak.
United continued to attack though, and Katsoulis whistled an effort past the post as the hour mark approached, before Jurak made another good save to this time deny Assad Taouil.
The pressure from the hosts soon paid off though, and Tom Krklec pulled his side level again as he pounced on a poor back pass before tucking the ball away to put the score at 3-3.
Central Coast started to turn the screws heading into the final 15 minutes, as Kekeris struck the crossbar before Jack Kuipers somehow fired over from close range.
The Mariners eventually restored their lead though, as Kekeris netted his second with a thunderbolt from outside the area. That marked the turning point for the end of the match as the Mariners began a blitz, with Kekeris’s hat-trick goal and a delightful chip from Charles M’Mombwa rounding out the scoreline in stoppage time.
Despite the result, the performance was in large parts an encouraging one for the young United side, and they now head back into training ahead of a home clash with Western Sydney Wanderers next Saturday.
Canberra United 3 (Roko Strika 12′, Jack Green 30′, Tomas Krklec 67′) def. by Central Coast Mariners 6 (Matias Paz 1′, 51′, Peter Kekeris 24′, 85′, 90+5′, Charles M’Mombwa 90+2′)