Men’s Match Report: Mariners 2-1 Victory

Melbourne Victory have ended their year in defeat, losing 2-1 away to Central Coast Mariners on New Year’s Eve.


Head coach Tony Popovic rung the changes for Victory’s first New Year’s Eve clash since 2011, with five changes made to the starting XI.

Nani and Ben Folami returned to the lineup, whilst Matthew Spiranovic and goalkeeper Matt Acton made their first starts of the season. Victory junior Will Wilson made his first senior start for the club.

It was Wilson who began brighter than anyone, making a daring run into the Mariners’ half in the second minute of play before cutting the ball back towards Nani in the box, but a last-ditch block denied the Portuguese forward an early goal.

Central Coast responded quickly to the visitors’ quick start though, charging into a 1-0 lead through a Jason Cummings header after just 10 minutes played.

Cummings looked to have scored his second of the night a few minutes later when he put the ball in the back of the net following a corner, but VAR intervened to rule the goal out for an offside in the scramble preceding the striker’s attempt.

Victory’s search for an equaliser was dealt a blow in the 29th minute when Chris Ikonomidis was forced from the field due to injury, with Stefan Nigro coming on to replace him.

However, the game took a major turn in the closing minutes of the first half, when Victory found a route back into the game from an unlikely source.

Kadete received the ball in an advanced position on the left side of the pitch, before firing an extraordinary shot that nestled perfectly in the top-left corner of Danny Vukovic’s goal.

An unstoppable strike with pinpoint accuracy, Kadete had pulled Victory back level at a pivotal moment in the match.

1-1 was the score at half-time following an eventful first 45 minutes.

Victory again made a bright start to the second half, most notably when Nani lifted a dangerous ball into the box from the right side which found Kadete searching for his brace, but the fullback was unable to keep his strike down and the score remained level.

The Mariners delivered their second sucker punch of the night in the 53rd minute when Cummings scored again following a corner, although this time there was no VAR intervention.

Popovic turned to his bench in search of a second equaliser, bringing on Nick D’Agostino and captain Josh Brillante just after the hour mark.

Central Coast thought they had been awarded a penalty a few minutes later when Josh Nisbet went down in the area following contact with Acton, but a VAR review concluded the Victory keeper had gotten to the ball first and the call was overturned.

Nishan Velupillay and Nathan Konstandopoulos were given opportunities off the bench in the dying minutes as Victory searched for a way back into the contest.

Konstandopoulos delivered a corner which found the head of Spiranovic in the 85th minute, but the veteran defender could not direct his effort on target.

Victory were ultimately unable to find a way through the Mariners’ defence for a second time, succumbing to a 2-1 defeat to close out the year.


Kadete’s wonder goal was a bright spark on a disappointing evening.


Will Wilson was highly impressive on his starting senior debut, showing immense hunger and athleticism during his hour on the pitch.

Although he was not rewarded with any goals or assists on the night, Wilson offered plenty of promise and will be one to watch in the coming weeks.


Victory’s fifth loss of the season means they will head into the new year in 10th position, with plenty of room for improvement in 2023.


Isuzu UTE A-League 2022/23 Round 10
Central Coast Mariners 2
(Cummings 11′, 53′)
Melbourne Victory 1
(Kadete 39′)


Victory will return to AAMI Park for their first game of 2023 when they host Brisbane Roar on Friday 6th January at 7:45pm AEDT.