WESTERN NSW Mariners FC coach Andrew Fearnley was satisfaction personified after his team secured its first win of the season at Wade Park on Saturday night, defeating the previously unbeaten Hawkesbury City FC 2-1.
Coming into the State League round four clash on the back of twin 4-nil losses Fearnley predicted a win if his team could retain possession against their more favoured opponents.
A goal either side of half-time was enough to shore up victory for the hosts, despite a late Hawks goal denying the Mariners a clean sheet.
“We’d had two bad losses, so we had to try and rectify that today,” Fearnley said.
“The boys responded really well, and it’s great we held on for the three points. In the first half we didn’t hold the ball as well as we would have liked, but we utilised the counter well. We defended well, Brent Osborne and Matt Corben were outstanding at the back.
"Second half we certainly stepped it up, Nick Rutherford was very good on the wing, and we were always looking to score that second goal on the counter. After we did it was about protecting the lead.”
Fearnley highlighted “a lack of ball control” as his team’s problem in its two previous losses, and with the Mariners midfield once again regularly turning over possession early Hawkesbury camped in the host’s half for the first 30 minutes of the game.
Despite relentless Hawkesbury attack the Mariners defence held strong - mainly thanks to several magnificent saves from goalkeeper Dave Plowright.
A heavy challenge from Hawks midfielder Prasheel Sharma, which resulted in a yellow card, spurred the home side into action as the Mariners began utilising long balls and switches in an effort to score in transition.
The counter-attacking ploy worked in the 41st minute. After back-to-back corners Rutherford crossed and found James Christie wide open at the top of the 18-yard box.
The Mariners skipper duly opened the scoring, just before the break.
Hawks began the second half as they did the first, creating several clear-cut chances including a 56th minute free kick which seemed certain to find the net but for a desperate Plowright, who tipped it neatly over the bar before diffusing the resulting corner.
The Mariners continued to build pressure in counter attack, and in the 69th minute a piece of individual magic from Rutherford left Adam Scimone alone in the box, with just the keeper to beat.
Scimone found the top right corner of the net, extending his team’s lead to two.
Despite an 89th minute major from Hawks striker Michael McCrory giving the visitors some hope, the Mariners defence held firm to secure their first win of the season.
WESTERN NSW MARINERS FC 2 (James Christie, Adam Scimone) def HAWKESBURY CITY FC 1 (Michael McCrory).