Mariners stun Victory in late A-L blitz

A-League wooden spooners Central Coast Mariners have ended their season on a high with a last-gasp comeback win over Melbourne Victory

MARCO ROJAS.
MARCO ROJAS. Picture: Mark Kolbe/Getty Images

An extraordinary late double from teenager Dylan Ruiz-Diaz saw Central Coast Mariners collect a dramatic 3-2 comeback win and consign Melbourne Victory to a club record fifth straight defeat.

Victory led with five minutes remaining of an entertaining, high-tempo encounter until Ruiz-Diaz netted twice in four minutes to give the Mariners a deserved victory in a match played behind closed doors at Kogarah Jubilee Oval in Sydney.

It was just a fifth win of the campaign for the Mariners, while the result meant the Victory recorded a fifth consecutive defeat for the first time in the club's history.

New Zealand international Marco Rojas looked set to take the headlines with a double, but it was Victory goalkeeper Matt Acton who played the most decisive role for his side with a string of impressive saves.

Acton pulled off several high-quality blocks, notably denying Mariners veteran forward Matt Simon who somehow failed to get on the scoresheet.

Rojas's 65th minute goal came just seconds after Acton produced one of the saves of the season to paw out Dylan Fox's close-range header.

Not for the first time, Victory's best moments came on the counter attack and one such break saw Rojas make the most of some ponderous defending to dribble past two defenders and score.

Fox had pulled the Mariners equal three minutes after the break with a close-range finish through a sea of legs, after the Victory failed to clear an inswinging freekick.

The Victory opener on 22 minutes was the product of a defensive mix-up between Kye Rowles and goalkeeper Mark Birighitti, whose unwise foray out of his penalty area allowed Rojas to nip in and slide the ball into an empty net.

But second-half substitute Ruiz-Diaz changed everything, firing home his first A-League goal with five minutes remaining after the teenager was smartly set up by Tommy Oar.

The 19-year-old Ruiz-Diaz then broke through to finish past an exposed Acton with a minute of normal time remaining.

Little went the Mariners' way for much of the match.

Acton produced an extraordinary save to block Matt Simon's near point-blank volley on the half-hour mark.

Minutes earlier Acton fisted away a blazing freekick from Simon, and the Mariners striker - after a succession of fine crosses from Jack Clisby - then glanced a header wide before halftime as the bottom side finished the half in the ascendancy.

Their luck got even worse before the break with a strong handball claim turned down and Tommy Oar's follow up shot ricocheting off the inside of the post and across the face of the goal.