Macarthur FC clinched a dramatic win over Central Coast Mariners on Sunday with teenager Jed Drew proving the hero, securing all three points for the Bulls with an injury-time winner.
While all the attention was centred on the Mariners’ EPL-bound teenager, Garang Kuol, it was the Bulls’ youngster who decided the contest with a superb finish in the dying moments of the match to clinch a 3-2 win at Central Coast Stadium.
It was a moment to saviour for the 19-year-old winger who scored his first-ever goal in the A-League in his first start in the competition, capping-off a remarkable performance that was voted as the best on ground by the Bulls’ members. In a nervous ending to a thrilling game, the teenager was the most composed man in Gosford as he calmly finished past the Mariners’ Australian international goalkeeper, Danny Vukovic, to deliver all three points for the Bulls and propel the club into fourth spot on the table heading into the month-long break for the World Cup.
“The most important thing for us in today’s game was making sure we got three points going into the break, a really nice positive,” Bulls head coach Dwight Yorke said
The Bulls took the lead early on the Central Coast when their incessant press forced an error from the most experienced man on the ground. The Bull’s relentless pressure forced a wayward back-pass that was poorly controlled by Vukovic and the instinctive Al Hassan Toure didn’t hesitate to inflict further punishment, slotting past the Socceroo to break the deadlock in the 14th minute.
Macarthur had a numerical advantage after half an hour when Mariners defender Brian Kaltak was sent-off for bringing down Lachlan Rose as the last man, making no attempt to play the ball. The visitors made the extra-man count minutes after half-time when Jonathan Aspropotamitis doubled their tally with a header from a Craig Noone corner. The defender’s goal was his first in the A-League, in game 101 of his career.
However, the introduction of Kuol minutes later turned the game on its head. Creating chaos in attack, the Mariners were awarded a penalty shortly after his introduction. World Cup-bound striker Jason Cummings stood over the spot kick but Macarthur goalkeeper Nick Suman was more than up to the task, diving to his left to palm away Cumming’s penalty.
Shortly after, Kuol won a penalty after drawing a foul from Kearyn Baccus. The youngster made no mistake from the spot to claw back to 2-1 in the 65th minute. Shortly after, Kuol showed why EPL club Newcastle have signed him for January, scoring a sensational strike from an acute angle to draw level in the 72nd minute.
However, it was the other teenager on the field that would have the final say. In the last minute of play as the match looked to be heading towards a draw, the Bulls’ Georgian striker put Drew into space. The teenager staved-off a challenge from a Mariners defender to unleash a powerful right-foot drive. It flew past Vukovic at the near post, rattled the back of the net to send the few hundred travelling Macarthur fans into delirium while sparking wild celebrations from the Bulls’ bench.
“I have to say, I am very happy we got the three points, we needed the three points really,” Yorke said. “This game was significant for us. I am sure the players will enjoy it.”