Some days you really just need to see balls get kicked with maximum thrust, and at full throttle.
The rain’s been pouring, hard, all weekend. Casualties have included the Sydney derby, and most organised sport, but the ground staff have worked their magic at McDonald Jones stadium in Newcastle and the F3 Derby is still on. It’s on. It doesn’t seem like it should be, but here we are watching as the teams line up with not a lot to play for but still, somehow, everything on the line.
Matt Simon starts for the Mariners. So does Chris Harold, his first game since signing from Perth. Tommy Oar’s injured so he won’t be playing. Roy O’Donovan’s back for Newcastle, all smiley and happy to be returning from his work trip to Brisbane. Craig Deans has his last game as caretaker coach for Newcastle, while Carl Robinson watches from the stands, his blue eyes staring holes through the team he’ll take over in the AM.
Newcastle dominate early and hard. The Mariners are playing for fouls and largely being ignored by the ref, while Newcastle see lots of early chances induce cringes that this could be a continuation of the swing-and-miss affair that was last week’s game against Western United.
Then a three piece goal at the fifteen minute mark breaks the dam for Newcastle, when Millar shoots a looping cross to Arroyo who’s in the box ready to head the ball to Dimi Petratos who in turn thunders it to the top left of goal. Then they double their tally with a Petratos corner that lasers in on Nik Topor-Stanley, who converts his chance into 2-0 roughly ten minutes later.
At this point I start to feel really sorry for the Mariners, who haven’t exhibited any fight, least of all when Matt Simon pays the yellow card Matt Simon tax and gets nullified pretty early on. But duh, Kelly, it’s a derby and it’s not dead yet.
Ruon Tongyik gets subbed on for the Mariners and scores from a Jack Clisby corner a few minutes before halftime. It’s his first ever A-League goal. Then a free kick from Milan Duric finds Jack Clisby completely unmarked a few minutes into the second half, a few metres from goal, and he dutifully slots the ball past Lewis Italiano. Now it’s 2-2.
Then Dimi Petratos gets his second goal for Newcastle – first he kicks it into a Mariner defender, it rebounds onto Arroyo who has a crack and misses, and it rebounds back to Petratos and he cannons it into goal, 52 minutes in. 3-2.
Next, a Bobby Burns corner rebounds off the Mariners’ Kim who’s unlucky enough to score a goal for the opposition and the score goes to 4-2 to Newcastle. Down, but not out, and Chris Harold sees Lewis Italiano napping in goal in the 85th minute and sails the ball over his head. It’s a gorgeous goal for his Mariners debut from halfway up his half, and the score is 4-3 where it finishes five minutes later.
The Mariners have fully sunk, while Newcastle have held on, a more buoyant performance proving they can get it done on a cold, wet, rainy day in their home city. Just.
By Kelly Simpson