A goalscoring debut for teenager Jacob Farrell has the Central Coast Mariners off to a perfect start under Nick Montgomery as they claimed a 2-1 A-League Men F3 derby win over the Newcastle Jets.
While they enjoyed just 32 per cent of the possession, the Mariners made their opportunities count in their season opener in front of a crowd of 6424 at a rain-soaked McDonald Jones Stadium in Newcastle.
Josh Nisbet bagged his first A-League goal after the half-time break when some sloppy play at the back allowed him to pop up and nudge the ball past Jets goalkeeper Jack Duncan.
Left-back Farrell, who turned 19 on Friday, headed in shortly after when he emerged from a sea of bodies to collect an inswinging Cy Goddard corner into the back of the net.
“I pushed Nissy to get a goal all pre-season because we know what he can do,” Montgomery said.
“Young Jacob Farrell is from the Central Coast and from the academy and that’s what playing for the Mariners is all about.
“He really put his name out there for the winning goal.
“We can improve everywhere. We came here with a game-plan and I’m looking forward to building on that result.”
Farrell looked to have secured the Mariners the three points, but Valentino Yuel gave the Jets some hope with a late goal to set up a grandstand finish.
The Jets, who lost Jason Hoffman to a groin injury in the first 10 minutes, struggled to deal with the Mariners’ plan to play in behind with Marco Urena slipping the attentions of Matt Jurman.
Daniel Penha offered some response for the Jets, but the home side were unable to crack the Mariners’ resolve.
There was one notable melee when Savvas Siatravanis was glanced slightly by Central Coast goalkeeper Mark Birighitti as the No. 1 cleared a ball in behind.
Newcastle began to grow into the game just before half-time and after the break struggled to rediscover their groove.
Kosta Grozos gave the ball away playing out from the back, with Nisbet making no mistake as he coolly slotted it past Duncan’s right in the 50th minute.
Farrell headed in the Mariners’ second soon after, but Newcastle coach Arthur Papas breathed life into the last 20 minutes with the introduction of Yuel.
The 27-year-old headed home an Angus Thurgate cross in the 78th minute as the Jets went in search of an equaliser.
Beka Mikeltadze hit the post before Yuel and Birighitti sparked a fresh coming together after scrapping for a ball slipping along near the Mariners’ goalmouth.
“I think we got involved in the emotion of the derby and that distracted us from what we were doing really well,” Papas said.
“At 2-0 it’s easy to give up and throw the towel in, but I think we threw everything at them and more.
“Overall it’s disappointing to not get something from the game.”