Mariners steal point in dramatic fightback
Photo Source: AAP
Perth Glory conceded a bizarre own goal as Central Coast fought back from 3-0 down to secure a 3-3 draw in Saturday night's A-League clash at nib Stadium.
A first-half brace to Adam Taggart and a 35th-minute penalty to Diego Castro put Perth on track for a crushing win.
But the Mariners fought back with a vengeance in the second half.
Roy O'Donovan pulled one back in the 56th minute.
And the Mariners were gifted a second goal in the 83rd minute when a goal-line clearance from Glory defender Marc Warren crashed straight into his own goalkeeper and into the back of the net.
The comeback was complete in the 85th minute when O'Donovan converted from the spot after being blocked by Rhys Williams as they ran into the box.
Perth were left to rue a series of missed chances in the second half.
Striker Andy Keogh had three one-on-ones saved by Mariners goalkeeper Ivan Necevski, while a host of other promising forays forward also went unrewarded
Glory entered the season as one of the title favourites following a promising recruiting campaign that netted them former golden boot winner Taggart, Socceroo Williams, and new skipper Rostyn Griffiths.
In contrast, Mariners coach Paul Okon only had five weeks to prepare his squad after replacing the sacked Tony Walmsley on August 29.
Central Coast collected the wooden spoon last season in a campaign that yielded just three wins and saw them concede 70 goals.
The additions of former Sydney FC trio Jacques Faty, Mickael Tavares, and Necevski was meant to provide the Mariners with some steel and experience.
Instead, the defensive holes of last season were clear to see as the Mariners conceded three goals inside 35 minutes.
Taggart was in the thick of the action throughout the early onslaught.
A perfectly-weighted Castro cross allowed Taggart to head home the opener in the third minute.
And Taggart had his double after tapping home Warren's cross from the left.
Faty looked shaky in the first half, and he cost his team a penalty when he collided heavily with Glory winger Chris Harold in the box.
Castro converted the penalty to send the 9501 crowd into raptures.
But from there the Mariners pulled a rabbit out of the hat, ensuring Glory's 20th season anniversary celebrations ended on a muted note.
"I don't think many people saw that coming in the second half," Glory coach Kenny Lowe said. "We basically stopped doing the things we were doing in the first half. I think we took the foot off the pedal to be truthful.
"But we had four one-on-ones in the second half to put the game out of sight. That's the nature of the game."
Mariners coach Paul Okon said he was proud of his team's fightback.
"There's a bit of us that feels disappointed that we didn't go on and win," Okon said.
"Our first half, conceding so early, set us back a bit. We lost confidence, and we were a bit nervous, afraid to make more mistakes.
"But the second half is the type of football we want to play. To do that you need the ball, you need to be brave, and we did that."