It was far from plain sailing in the wet but leaders Central Coast have kept up their A-League momentum with a 90th minute penalty goal to salvage a 2-2 draw with Perth Glory.
The visitors looked set to get full points at Central Coast Stadium until debutant Luke Bodnar made contact with Matt Simon’s head in the box, prompting a review by the VAR.
Referee Kurt Ams pointed to the spot and Simon made no mistake to level a match of the highest quality despite less than ideal conditions.
But the decision left Glory coach Richard Garcia less than impressed.
“I don’t think I have ever seen that called a penalty in my life – a clash of heads,” he said.
The match was delayed by half an hour due to the heavy rain but when it got going there was little let-up.
The Mariners were rewarded first for their enterprising start when Costa Rica international Marco Urena, a constant menace in the opening stanza, scored in the 25th minute.
Daniel Bouman had laid off a superb ball for Daniel De Silva whose shot was well saved by ‘keeper Liam Reddy only for Urena to nutmeg him on the deflection.
But the home side couldn’t capitalise completely on their dominance, Bruno Fornaroli bagging his seventh goal of the season for the Glory after a whipped cross from Neil Kilkenny.
The home side were desperately unlucky not to regain the lead when Oliver Bozanic’s looping left-foot shot hit the far post but from there the Glory enjoyed the balance of play.
Fornaroli should have done better without the keeper to beat in the 65th minute but it appeared the scorned chance would not cost them as D’Agostino scored a near-post special for the Glory to take the lead in the 76th.
Yet the drama was far from over.
Firebrand Reddy got into some push and shove with his teammate Nicholas Sullivan for seemingly failing to mark up in defence and just two minutes later Simon and Darryl Lachman were both yellow carded for an altercation.
Even Simon’s penalty failed to secure the match with both sides having chances in time added on.
Mariners coach Alen Stajcic said his side should have been up by two or three goals at the break but conceded the Glory then came home far the better.
He thought Ams had a good game in the driving rain and unsurprisingly had few issues with the penalty.
“It wasn’t the referee who determined the result in the game of football,” he said.