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ALM: Mariners claim F3 derby following gritty win

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The Central Coast Mariners claimed their fourth consecutive F3 derby following a gritty 1-0 win over the Newcastle Jets on Saturday night.

Usually, one of the standout fixtures on the A-League Men’s (ALM) calendar, the latest instalment was a scrappy affair at McDonald Jones Stadium on 2 March, due to heavy rainfall in the area.

The slippery conditions clearly levelled the playing field between the two combatants, sitting second and 11th respectively on the table.

But, it was Newcastle’s Achilles heel, which continued to haunt them.

The Jets have conceded more goals than any other side in the final 15 minutes of a match.

And, it occurred again with Central Coast’s Joshua Nisbet breaking the 0-all deadlock in the 75th.

The result, unfortunately, puts more pressure on Newcastle to reach the top six with seven regular rounds remaining.

Despite the state of the surface, the showdown was evenly poised at the break.

To Newcastle’s credit, the boys made the Mariners work hard for the three competition points, too.

Although, the visitors blew a chance when Storm Roux was caught offside in the 59th minute, which negated Jing Reec’s brilliant header past Jets’ goalie Ryan Scott.

Host coach Rob Stanton rang in a few substitutions, with Clayton Taylor (replacing Daniel Wilmering), Trent Buhagiar (Callum Timmins) and Kosta Grozos (Archie Goodwin) providing some much-needed spark.

When it appeared as though Newcastle might prevail at home, Mikael Doka set up Nisbet, whose left-footed shot found the back of the net.

Tempers flared soon after when Brad Tapp took out Grozos’ legs.

Jets’ defender Philip Cancar raced in, taking umbrage to the dangerous challenge, sparking a minor scuffle.

When the players settled, referee Adam Kersey yellow-carded both Tapp and Cancar.

Try as it might, Newcastle just couldn’t grab the equaliser before the final whistle.

“It was a tough one,” Jets’ defender Dane Ingham said.

“We gave Nisy (Nisbet) a little bit of room and he punished us.

“That’s something we need to work on moving forward.”

Speaking of the future, Newcastle now faces Perth Glory (ninth), Adelaide United (10th) and Melbourne City (seventh) in the coming weeks.

“They’re virtually six-point games for us, because we’re all around the same area on the ladder,” Ingham said.

“However, we’ve just got to take it one match at a time.

“The Glory in Perth will be tough.

“We need to recover from this one, learn from it and, hopefully, put something into work for next week.

“Results like tonight can be deflating; it’s kind of been like that all season.

“But, it’s a good group here… we’ll pick ourselves up and dust ourselves off.

“We realise we can’t keep saying that ‘we’re playing well, we’re playing this, we’re playing that’.

“The boys know we need to put in performances to get results; that’s what we play for.

“We play to win.

“I know we’re young but we have to learn quick because losing can become a habit and we don’t want that to stick around for long.”

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