It could easily have been a baptism of fire for Western NSW Mariners FC, but last weekend’s Football NSW National Premier League 3 opener turned out to be as encouraging a result as the side could’ve hoped for instead.
Facing last year’s grand finalists Fraser Park FC at Lithgow, the Mariners fought back from a 2-0 deficit to secure an impressive draw, those two goals coming in the space of three minutes late in the game.
In fact, Western skipper Adam Scimone says, the hosts can probably count themselves unlucky not to have come away with an upset victory after a couple of late chances went begging, but the Mariners men still had plenty of reasons to smile.
“I felt that if we took some chances then we could have won it but overall I’m happy with the start and hopefully we can back it up next week,” Scimone said.
The Mariners’ dominance across the opening half couldn’t be converted into a goal.
In two big first-half opportunities Orange’s Kenny McCall flashed a shot wide and a Jaiden Culbert effort sailed over the bar too.
Instead, Fraser Park’s Michael Guse got the better of the Mariners’ offside trap and opened the scoring in the 48th minute.
Pietro Nigro doubled the visitors’ advantage with just 14 minutes to spare.
Western had a chance to hit back on a Culbert break before he was brought down in the box and McCall made no mistake from the resulting penalty.
Orange’s Matt Corben picked up a hard-earned goal just moments later to equalise and ensure an intense final 10 minutes in which, ultimately, neither side could find a match-winner.
“Matt Corben, at centre-back, played a ball through the midfield and continued his run into Fraser Park’s back third and finished off well,” Scimone said.
“We thought Jaiden might have got through their offside trap toward the end but he was called offside.
“Callum Christie got the ball from midfield and found himself with an open shot but unfortunately it went wide. We’re still happy to come away with the draw.”
The Mariners face last year’s State League champions Camden Tigers next round.