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  • The Western Sydney Wanderers began their first match of the post-Babbel era with Jean-Paul de Marigny taking charge and leading the Wanderers to a 3-1 win over the Central Coast Mariners. Goals from Nicolai Muller and Mitch Duke either side of a Matt Simon penalty had the Wanderers in front before Simon Cox stamped his debut with a late sealer.

    Having kicked off, within 30 seconds the Wanderers should have scored. Kamau busted the Mariners defensive line and his cut back to Pirmin Schwegler gave him a chance at the near post 3 yards from goal. Mark Birighitti smothered the chance, but the ball spilled out and Schwegler couldn't make contact with a back-heel to an empty net.

    After 20 minutes of domination the Wanderers pulled the Mariners apart again, Muller was fed by Kamau and after some good back to goal play from Mitch Duke, Kwame Yeboah fired from the edge of the penalty area but blasted it over the bar. Daniel De Silva had the first Mariners shot in anger shortly after, firing across the face of goal and going well wide.

    Both sides had golden chances to open the scoring near on the half-hour. First the Wanderers through Kamau's wide cross, the ball made it to an unmarked Muller and his side half-volley ballooned up in the air. The Mariners counter-attacked and Jordan Murray cut inside Dylan McGowan, onto his left foot and with the goal beckoning and only Lopar to beat, he failed to test Lopar and his curling attempt to hit the top-corner sailed over the bar. Muller had another glorious chance, tip-toeing past the Mariners central defenders then sliding the ball past the far post for a goal-kick. Duke had his own chance a minute later via Muller, but his first touch into the penalty area was abysmal and flew out for a goal-kick.

    The Wanderers finally converted their dominance into a 1-0 lead 5 minutes before half-time. Central Coast setup to play out from the back for no apparent reason at a goal-kick despite the Wanderers showing a clear desire to press high up the park, Jack Clisby decided to send it back to a central defender but vastly underhit the ball, leaving Yeboah with a simple low ball across to Muller who took one touch near the penalty spot then blasted past Birighitti.

    Matt Simon entered the fray after half-time as the Mariners moved to a two up front system. Daniel Lopar was called into action after in the 52nd minute, after a dubious non-call for a handball from Simon, Murray struck at goal and forced Lopar into a great one handed save. Kamau followed shortly after with his own chance, Muller with a lay off header that Kamau completely fluffed his lines on to double bounce it over the bar.

    The 57th minute marked the introduction of Irish international Simon Cox to make his Wanderers debut for Yeboah, the Mariners responding with Jair joining Simon up front as Murray exited the contest. Milan Duric fired wide after picking up the scraps from a Georgievski slide tackle. Schwegler came within inches of doubling the Wanderers advantage as he touched the ball with a long range shot. Muller weaved magic on the by-line to cut back for Mitch Duke, Birighitti threw himself into the save and took the ball to the face and was down for some time getting treatment.

    Simon Cox made his first impact in the A-League by winning a penalty in the 75th minute as Tommy Oar dragged him down from behind as Cox was about to shoot. Mitch Duke stepped up for the penalty kick and his cheeky panenka went straight down the middle for 2-0.

    The Mariners had a penalty of their own almost instantly, Simon getting lucky as the ball dropped in the area and Schwegler attempted to clear it but only knocked the back of the strikers leg. Simon as is his want, blasted the penalty and Lopar had dived the wrong way to make it 2-1.

    Lopar saved his team yet again for the season, the Mariners worked the ball out wide, launched a cross that found the head of Dylan Ruiz-Diaz, and with the crowd expecting the back of the net to bulge, they were denied a celebration by a magnificent left footed diving save that he also pushed out to avoid any hope of a rebound goal.

    As the Mariners pushed for an equaliser, the Wanderers found themselves on the counter deep into stoppage time. Keanu Baccus launched the attack with a neat ball to substitute Mo Adam, after he made a hash of an earlier chance this time around he picked the perfect pass for Muller, Muller tapped inside for the straight run of Cox and the Irish marksman made no mistake passing it into the back of the net to seal a 3-1 win.

    The Wanderers face Sydney FC at Kogarah Oval next weekend on Saturday February 8, kick-off at 5pm.



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