The Western Sydney Wanderers sit two points clear at the top of the NPL 2 ladder after salvaging a point in a dramatic 3-3 draw against the Central Coast Mariners at Pluim Park on Sunday afternoon.
Following a goalless first half, strikes from Jordan Morfitis and Brenton Fox gave the Wanderers a two-goal buffer shortly after the re-start, before the Mariners clawed their way ahead with three unanswered goals.
With literally the last play of the game, substitute Kyle Cimenti nodded home from close range to deny the Mariners the win and send the Red & Black two points clear in first place with four games left remaining in the season.
The game began on an even tilt, with the Mariners coming close to opening the scoring, being denied by the underside of the crossbar.
The Wanderers took their time to grow into the game and soon had a flurry of chances.
Striker Tariq Maia had the best opportunity to break the deadlock in the first half after dancing through the Mariners’ defence and finding himself one-on-one with the keeper.
Maia’s shot was blocked smartly by the Mariners’ custodian and the two sides went into the break scoreless.
The Wanderers wouldn’t have to wait long to open their account, when just seconds after the re-start, Jordan Morfitis slotted home after latching onto a ball in behind the Mariners’ defence.
The goal jolted the Red & Black into life and they doubled their advantage just five minutes later courtesy of a neat Brenton Fox drive from outside the box.
The Mariners reply came almost immediately, as four minutes later Lachie Wales finished from close range to peg one back for the home side.
The Mariners continued to pressure the Wanderers goal, forcing keeper Matthew Symes into a series of fine saves.
The pressure would soon tell, as Cooper Buswell found an equaliser with just minutes to play in normal time.
The Mariners weren’t finished though, as Reece Papadimitrios sent a lovely curling effort past Symes in the first minute of additional time to cap off a spirited comeback.
Just as the game looked out of reach for the Wanderers, striker Kyle Cimenti nodded home as the referee blew full-time.
It was a dramatic end to what was a roller-coaster of a second half but means the Wanderers extend their lead to two points at the top of the table, following second place Sydney FC’s loss to Fraser Park.
The Wanderers will look to continue to finish off the season strongly when they host the North Shore Mariners at Blacktown Football Park on Saturday night.
Central Coast Mariners 3 (Lachie Wales 54’, Cooper Buswell 87’, Reece Papadimitrios 90+1’)
Western Sydney Wanderers 3 (Jordan Morfitis 46’, Brenton Fox 50’, Kyle Cimenti 90+3’)
Western Sydney Wanderers: Matt Symes (GK), Tate Russell, Lachlan Campbell, Abdelrahman Kuku, Keanu Baccus, Tacettin Kumsuz, Charles Abou, Tariq Maia, Lawrence Hanna, Kyle Cimenti, Brenton Fox
Bench: Daniel Axford (GK), Kyle Cimenti, Henry Davies, Kosta Grozos, Ramy Najjarine
20s: CCM 1-5 WSW
18s: CCM 0-1 WSW
16s: Bonnyrigg White Eagles 2-5 WSW
15s: Bonnyrigg White Eagles 0-2 WSW
14s: Bonnyrigg White Eagles 2-2 WSW
13s: Bonnyrigg White Eagles 3-1 WSW