A red hot Bonnyrigg White Eagles fought back from a goal down to defeat Central Coast Mariners Academy by an emphatic 5-1 scoreline at Bonnyrigg Sports Club on Saturday night.
Last season’s golden boot winner Robbie Younis was the hero of the day as he bagged himself a four goal haul while Alex Mansueto also grabbed a vital goal to put Bonnyrigg in front after Chris Payne had opened the scoring against his former club.
It was a game of two halves in every sense of the word as the visitors produced an impressive first-half performance to take the lead only to concede an unfortunate penalty which was duly converted by Younis shortly before the break.
Bonnyrigg then went on to take control of the match in the second half with four well taken goals; a harsh juxtaposition against the Mariners Academy’s second half form at the other end as they squandered a couple of opportunities that could have turned the match in their favour.
The match will be a learning curve for Mark Jones’ men after their third appearance in the IGA National Premier League NSW Mens 1 competition ended in a fairly severe scoreline while Bonnyigg look to be in fine form as they deservedly notched up their third win of the season to keep themselves at the top of the table.
After moving the ball around well throughout the opening minutes the hosts soon had the ball in the back of the net only to see Younis’ Maradona-esque finish correctly ruled out for handball.
Jamie Lobb has brought down Mitch Long as he darted toward the corner of the 18-yard box; Chris Tadrosse’s ensuing free kick was flicked on by Long to Younis who wound back the clock to the 1986 World Cup to produce his best Hand of God impersonation to turn the ball into the net and receive a booking for his troubles.
Brady Smith gave his side a scare soon after as his angled backpass drew a crucial sliding clearance from goalkeeper Jordan Nikolovski with Alex Canak steaming in to attempt to score via an interception.
Mariners Academy began to settle into the match and string their passes together in the Bonnyrigg half to test out their opposition.
At the other end Long went on one of his trademark darting runs as he skipped past a number of challenges before a crucial Scott Pettit challenge brought an end to Long’s mazy run.
The visitors were able to carve out a few chances of their own soon after as James Monie capped off a swift counter attack by grazing the far post with a driven 25-yard effort while Pettit also had a dig from range, drawing a comfortable save from Matthew Nash with his effort from the edge of the box.
Mariners Academy continued to grow in confidence across the park were soon rewarded for their efforts when Payne returned to haunt his former employers when he caught the Bonnyrigg defence napping before finishing with a cheeky lob to catch Matthew Nash off guard and open the scoring.
Payne nearly found his way through on goal soon after as he took on the Bonnyrigg backline only to be halted by a vital last ditch challenge by Ben Spruce.
Bonnyrigg then burst back into life as they created a number of chances in quick succession.
First Tadrosse cut inside his marker to find space to fire a curled effort over Nikolovski only to hit the top of the crossbar as his shot dipped late.
Adrian Ucchino also tested Nikolovski with a powerful long range strike before Long couldn’t find the right angle as he headed Mansueto’s dangerous cross wide of the near post.
Younis put his quick footwork to use soon after as he skipped past Daniel Bragg and Brady Smith only to run into Lobb’s perfectly timed sliding challenge which prevented a golden opportunity for last season’s golden boot winner.
The hosts finally cracked Mariners Academy’s stubborn backline when Canak’s threaded pass put Long into the box; Long’s attempted cross struck the trailing arm of Crowell giving referee Kevin Peddie no choice but to point to the spot.
The ever-reliable Younis stepped up to send Nikolovski the wrong way and bury the penalty, drawing his side level with the half time break looming.
The interval did little to dampen the host’s momentum as they pressed forward from the restart in search of the lead.
Brian Brown’s men did not have to wait long to find the goal they craved; a Tadrosse corner was re-centred by Long at the far post, allowing Mansueto the half chance he needed to turn the ball into the net from close range with a clinical finish.
The visitors came within inches of finding an equaliser around the hour mark when Monie chested a cross into Pettit’s path; the winger’s first time effort had Nash beaten yet struck the base of the post before deflecting wide.
Mariners Academy were instantly punished for the miss when Bonnyrigg earned themselves a two goal buffer on the next counterattack.
Bo Hyun Chun was afforded acres of space on the left flank, giving the midfielder enough time to pick out the unmarked Younis at the far post who finished with a powerful placed header to send the home fans into frenzy.
Payne almost pulled a goal back minutes later when Monie pressured Spruce into coughing up possession on the edge of his own box; under the close attention of his markers Payne was able to buy himself half a yard of space with a few consecutive sharp turns only to see his final deflected shot acrobatically tipped away by Nash who showed great reflexes to keep the effort out.
The visitors continued to press forward in search of a route back into the match with Monie awkwardly heading wide under pressure from Nikola Zonjic.
In pressing numbers forward Mariners Academy were left exposed at the back as substitute Tynan Diaz darted clear down the right flank before finding Younis in the box once again.
The in-form striker took full advantage, heading against the cross to beat Nikolovski once again to secure his hattrick.
Despite the job appearing finished Younis wasn’t quite done as he gave the fans had barely enough time to return to their seats before netting his fourth and Bonnyrigg’s fifth with an opportunistic finish from inside the box.
With the win secured Brown withdrew both of his goalscorers, allowing Younis and the injured Mansueto leave the field to a standing ovation from the home fans.
While both sides picked away at each other in the closing stages the scores remained the same as the hosts claimed all three points and maintained their place at the top of the table with three wins from three.
Bonnyrigg White Eagles coach Brian Brown was delighted with the win after identifying this clash with Mariners Academy as a potential danger match for his side:
“I think it was always going to be a little bit of a danger game after winning our first two,” said Brown.
“We really highlighted to the guys this week that this would be a tough game, and it was.
“Credit to the Mariners (Academy); they worked hard and made it really difficult for us.
“It was one of those games where they probably could have had another three goals, but we probably could have had another six goals – that was how it looked to me anyway.
“I’m very happy, we’ve gone the first three games with wins, scored eleven, and conceded only three which is a great start.
“We’ve got a group of boys that I’m very proud of, they never give in and will keep going until the end, they’ll chase, they’ll fight, they’ll do all that stuff but they can play and I’m extremely proud of what they did last year and I think this group is more than capable of going on and doing the same or similar things.”
Brown also took time out to praise four goal hero Robbie Younis after his in-form striker appears set to carry his 2012 goalscoring form into their 2013 campaign:
“He was our foundation, from a goalscoring point of view, he was the main thing for us last year,” said Brown.
“He’s just got an amazing knack and an amazing gift to score.
“If you keep giving Robbie chances he’ll score, he doesn’t miss much.
“We just hope it continues!”
Central Coast Mariners Academy coach Mark Jones was left to lament his side’s second half performance after they had matched it with their more experienced opposition throughout the first-half:
“It was an excellent first 45’ minutes,” said Jones.
“A tough penalty 5’ minutes before half-time, but I was reasonably happy with that and we obviously didn’t take some opportunities.
“I guess I would have expected to be at least an extra goal up at half-time.
“In the second-half we were just naïve, still trying to play football we turned the ball over in some poor areas and it cost us big time as you saw and we didn’t take our opportunities.
“At 2-1 down we hit the post and it goes up the other end – those things turn games when you don’t take your opportunities and being naïve defensively you get punished.
“They’re a good team (Bonnyrigg), they took their opportunities, and when we gave it to them they were clinical in punishing our mistakes.”
With a philosophy driven by positive football Jones watched his men punished for their errors throughout the second period and will be urging his squad to maintain concentration from start to finish after today’s loss:
“Because we’re trying to play football and trying to play out from the back we’re going to make mistakes, but we need to eliminate that at training so that it doesn’t happen here,” said Jones.
“Although 5-1 is an unjust scoreline it’s a lesson to them and one they need to learn from.
“We did quite well in patches but let ourselves down with some really silly mistakes – we’ll work on that.
“At half-time I was extremely happy and we went from being extremely happy to extremely disappointed.
“I guess if you can play 45’ minutes decent there’s no reason why you can’t play 90’ minutes decent.
“We have played decent football, I know we can play decent football, we just need to do that for 90’ minutes.”
Bonnyrigg White Eagles 5 (Robbie Younis 41’ (pen), 62’, 74’, 77’, Alex Mansueto 49’)
Central Coast Mariners Academy 1 (Chris Payne 27’)
Saturday, March 30th, 2013
Bonnyrigg Sports Centre, Bonnyrigg
Referee: Kevin Peddie
Assistant Referees: Jim Manos and Samuel Grasso
Fourth Official: Gareth Williams
Bonnyrigg White Eagles: 1.Matthew Nash; 8.Alex Canak, 21.Bo Hyun Chun, 16.Howard Fondyke, 10.Mitchell Long, 2.Alex Mansueto, 11.Ben Spruce, 5.Chris Tadrosse, 18.Adrian Ucchino, 9.Robert Younis, 6.Nikola Zonjic
Substitutes: 7.Tynan Diaz, 15.Steven Hesketh, 19.Aaron Peterson, 14.Jordan Crighton, 23.Nikodin Matic
Yellow Cards: Robbie Younis 4’
Red Cards: Nil
Central Coast Mariners Academy: 1.Jordan Nikolovski; 8.Daniel Bragg, 39.Matthew Crowell, 4.Adam Jenner, 3.Jamie Lobb, 9.James Monie, 6.Christopher Payne, 7.Scott Pettit, 5.Brady Smith, 26.Ridge Mapu, 10.Adam Bidelle
Substitutes: 24.Nathan Verity, 11.Louis Bozanic, 20.Behan Irmoko, 16.Jed Prater
Yellow Cards: Nil
Red Cards: Nil
3 – Robbie Younis (BWE)
2 – Alex Mansueto (BWE)
1 – Scott Pettit (CCMA)
-By Michael Shoolman