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Victory avoid shock loss to Mariners

Central Coast were on their way to pulling off the upset of the A-League season before conceding three second-half goals to lose to Melbourne Victory.

Victory avoid shock loss to Mariners

Central Coast were on their way to pulling off the upset of the A-League season before conceding three second-half goals to lose to Melbourne Victory.

JAMES TROISI during the AFC Asian Champions League match between the Melbourne Victory and Kawasaki Frontale at AAMI Park in Melbourne, Australia.
JAMES TROISI during the AFC Asian Champions League match between the Melbourne Victory and Kawasaki Frontale at AAMI Park in Melbourne, Australia. Picture:Photo by Michael Dodge/Getty Images

Melbourne Victory have scored three goals in the second half to escape with a 3-2 comeback win over Central Coast in Gosford.

The Mariners looked set to cause the upset of the A-League season on Saturday when Andrew Hoole nailed two sublime free kicks in the first half.


However, the defending champions flicked the switch after the break and levelled through James Troisi and an own goal by Mariners' goalkeeper Ben Kennedy.

Kosta Bararouses then sealed the comeback two minutes from time by finishing on the counter against a tiring Mariners defence to break the hearts of the modest 5,223 crowd.

The win ensures the second-placed Victory remain four points clear of Sydney FC, who host Melbourne City on Sunday.

It was a cruel finish for the Mariners, whose 16-game winless run against the Victory appeared over when Hoole curled in his first shot in the 18th minute.

The chances flowed thereafter, with Matt Millar's speculator finding woodwork and Jacob Melling's audacious long-range effort denied by Lawrence Thomas.

A rattled Victory could barely move upfield and were pressured into giving away another set piece on the edge of the box just before half-time.

And Hoole delivered yet another pearler, beating the outstretched gloves of Thomas to take a stunning two-goal lead at the break.

With the Victory in search of some spark, Elvis Kamsoba entered the building and made an immediate impact by teeing up their first goal for Troisi.

The speedy winger caused plenty of havoc down the left edge, and began the comeback when he cut back for Troisi to deliver in the 50th minute.

The visitors then squared the contest in bizarre fashion when Kennedy failed to deal with an awkward Raul Baena ball into the box and palmed the ball into the net.

Victory's relief may yet be tempered by an injury to skipper Carl Valeri, who limped off with a hamstring issue in the first half.

Forced to rely on the depth of his squad following injuries to Keisuke Honda and Ola Toivonen, Victory coach Kevin Muscat singled out Kamsoba's contribution.

"He was outstanding from the moment he stepped on, right to the death there," Muscat said.

"It's just a real big contribution. He seemed to lift the players around him."

Mariners coach Mike Mulvey also conceded his players were rattled by Kamsoba's speed.

"We were spooked in the second half because they put the young lad wide left and he changed their shape," he said.

"I wouldn't say we didn't cope with it, it's that we acted surprised by it and it brought a bit of uncertainty."

AAP


AAP




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