Ben Kennedy was the hero as rock-bottom Central Coast Mariners recorded a dramatic 3-2 win over the Newcastle Jets, who failed with two attempts to convert a stoppage-time penalty.
The Mariners – who sacked Mike Mulvey following a humiliating 8-2 loss to Wellington Phoenix last time out – astonishingly went 3-0 up thanks to goals from Jordan Murray, Jem Karacan and Connor Pain.
The Jets closed the gap as they rallied in the closing minutes, Roy O’Donovan finishing from close range before Kennedy parried a cross onto the knees of Ronny Vargas, the unexpected deflection sending the ball into the net.
However, Kennedy was at the centre of a hectic conclusion to proceedings. O’Donovan had the chance to equalise from the spot after he was fouled by Jonathan Aspropotamitis, only for the forward to be denied twice by Central Coast’s goalkeeper.
Daniel Georgievski converted the rebound following the first miss, but VAR ordered it to be taken again due to encroachment. O’Donovan had another go but was again thwarted by Kennedy, who correctly dived to his left.
The save preserved the lead as the Mariners, with former Australia women’s coach Alen Stajcic in charge, recorded just their second win of the campaign.
— Hyundai A-League (@ALeague) March 16, 2019
In Saturday’s other A-League fixture, Kosta Barbarouses scored twice as third-placed Melbourne Victory triumphed 2-1 against Brisbane Roar.
Barbarouses converted Keisuke Honda’s pass for the opener, with the New Zealand international dropping to his knees after finding the net as a mark of respect following the terror attack in Christchurch on Friday.
His second goal saw him fire in from an acute angle and while Eric Bautheac punished some sloppy defending with a well-executed chip to pull one back, Melbourne held on to pick up all three points.
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