Western United have kicked off their Tasmanian voyage with a smash-and-grab win over the top-of-the-table Central Coast Mariners.
Connor Pain’s opener inside five minutes was enough to separate the sides and, in turn, exact revenge for Western’s heartbreaking defeat in early February.
The win also places Western within two points of the top six while also having an extra three games in hand on the Western Sydney Wanderers who currently occupy sixth place.
In the first game on the Apple Isle since January 2013, Tasmania’s football-starved faithful only had to wait a matter of minutes for the opener.
Pain’s clever one-two with Besart Berisha allowed for the wing-back to slice through the heart of the Mariners defence before poking it into the back of the net.
Iker Guarroxtena should’ve made it two for Western as he latched onto Diamanti’s perfectly-timed ball but the Spaniard turned his effort straight at Mark Birighitti from point-blank range.
The Mariners were much improved after the break with both Michal Janota and Daniel Bouman coming close to finding an equaliser in the space of ten minutes.
Central Coast thought the job was going to become all the more difficult when Ruon Tongyik was given a red card for a challenge on Pain – but it was quickly rescinded after Besart Berisha was deemed offside in the build-up.
Despite their best efforts, the Mariners’ loss places them in a precarious position on the top of the league with both Melbourne City and Adelaide United within touching distance of jumping the Gosford outfit.
Connor Pain was the match’s lone goalscorer.Source:Getty Images
FOOTBALL RETURNS TO TASSIE
It has been just over eight years between drinks for Tasmania’s football faithful.
The opening match of Western United’s voyage down south marked the first A-League game in Tassie since January 2013, when Melbourne Victory played out a one-all draw with the Mariners.
Tasmania have previously thrown their hat in the ring for an A-League license and their football-starved fans will be hoping that, one day, they’ll boast a team of their own.
TONGYIK ON OR OFF?
It was the moment which had both sides baffled and straight-out confused.
Ruon Tongyik was given a second-yellow-card for his challenge on Connor Pain which saw the Mariners defender given his marching orders – for only a matter of minutes.
Many, including the social media admins of both teams, were left confused. However, it was revealed there was an offside in the lead-up prior to Tongyik’s foul.
Western United were dealt an almighty boost in their chase for a top six berth with the return of Josh Risdon.
The 14-time Socceroo made his return from the bench, playing the final portion of the game after almost eight months on the sidelines following a shocking leg injury.
The 28-year-old, who was a staple of the Western defence last season, will have to jostle with in-form Dylan Pierias for a starting spot in the final months of the season.
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