Nick Montgomery has praised his side’s young reinforcements after they helped lift an undermanned Central Coast Mariners to a 4-2 win over Macarthur FC in the A-League Men.
Despite missing a number of regular starters to injury and backing up from a mid-week trip to Perth, the Mariners proved far too strong for a disappointing Bulls side at Mudgee’s Glen Willow Stadium on Saturday.
Without the likes of Oli Bozanic, Beni N’Kololo, and Dan Hall and forced to substitute Harry McCarthy in just the 18th minute, the Mariners rode a brace from Marco Urena and goals from Matt Hatch and Noah Smith to claim a win which moves them to eighth on the ALM table.
McCarthy left Mudgee in a moonboot and will have scans, but Montgomery is hopeful that a seven-day break before a visit from Adelaide will give some injured players sufficient time to return.
“A massive effort. Well deserved,” Montgomery said.
“I’ve got more belief in these young boys, they’ve got a lot of character. I’ve worked with them for the last couple of years in the NPL.
“The good thing is we’ve got a seven-day break and hopefully we should have some boys back in the squad.
“But when the boys perform like that, I’ve always been fair, if you put the performances in, you stay in the team.”
Briefly able to tie things up through Adrian Mariappa’s late first-half effort after Urena’s opener, the fifth-placed Bulls could only watch on as the Mariners kicked away; rendering a late flurry in which Lachlan Rose netted purely a consolation.
“We just thought we looked off the pace,” said Bulls boss Ante Milicic.
“We looked slow. We were getting done too often in transition and in the end, we just put in a disappointing performance.
“We got it wrong, I got it wrong. That’s something that I’ve got to have a look at, whether it was the selection or what we did during the week.
“But with a seven-day turnaround, that’s the most disappointing part of it.”
Following Urena’s 27th minute opener, Milicic made a triple substitution; setting a new national league record for the earliest such change in the process.
“Did you watch the first 30 minutes?” he said.
“I was disappointed with moreso… the intensity. I thought we needed to change a few things and bring in some fresh personnel.”-