Central Coast and Melbourne City have put on a show for football fans in Gosford on New Year’s Eve, with both sides coming from behind in a heart-stopping 2-2 draw.
In a match that proved to be somewhat of an arm-wrestle in the opening exchanges Tim Cahill put City in front before the interval with a regulation header.
The visitors appeared to be easing to victory until two goals in eight minutes from Trent Buhagiar and Roy O’Donovan saw Central Coast take a shock lead.
The Mariners’ leading scorer had a strong chance to bank a quick fire double but was unable to connect from just a couple of yards out leaving the home fans gasping.
Instead Paul Okon’s side were left to rue that miss after City earned a late penalty that was buried emphatically by Bruno Fornaroli to earn a share of the points.
The result was City’s fourth straight draw and sees them remain in fourth spot at the midpoint in the season. Meanwhile the Mariners edged to just one win from the top six and will take plenty of heart from their second half showing.
0-1 Melbourne City: Tim Cahill, 40’
An inviting cross from Bruce Kamau was met by the charging run of Cahill who left his marker behind and had plenty of time to head past Paul Izzo.
1-1 Central Coast Mariners: Trent Buhagiar, 77’
Substitute Fabio Ferreira scooted downfield on the counter before laying the ball off for the 18-year-old, who struck it sweetly into the near top corner.
2-1 Central Coast Mariners: Roy O’Donovan, 85’
Some swift ball movement from the home side sent Buhagiar clear down the flank, who squared the ball for O’Donovan to fire home from close range.
2-2 Melbourne City: Bruno Fornaroli pen; 90’
Substitute Daniel Arzani earned City a penalty when he was cut down in the box by Scott Galloway, with Fornaroli stepping up and firing the spot-kick straight down the middle to level the scores.
Tim Cahill’s goal was the third match in row the Caltex Socceroos striker has opened the scoring.
Melbourne City’s two goals took them to 58 for the calendar year – a Hyundai A-League record.
The Mariners are unbeaten in the last four New Year’s Eve clashes in Gosford, having previously won the last three.
Mariners defender Jacques Faty was forced off with a hamstring injury following his first touch of the ball after just two minutes, with Michael Neill coming on.
11,184 @ Central Coast Stadium
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Football Federation Australia