Melbourne City defeated Central Coast Mariners 3-2 in an A-League clash on Tuesday at AMMI Park, Melbourne. The result means the City moved up to the top of the ladder with 25 points after 14 rounds, while the Mariners dropped to 11th place with 11 points after 11 games.
Two controversial refereeing decisions were a part of the game, and there was a lengthy VAR review in the match. Even after the game, the Central Coast Mariners fans and the players were raging with the referee’s decision. Now there are chances that the referee might face some actions due to his mistakes on the ground.
The Mariners were denied what appeared to be a clear penalty and a chance to equalise at the death after Mathew Leckie stepped on Lewis Miller’s foot.
Mariners coach Nick Montgomery said the decisions “ruined the game” and needed explanations. “Tonight, City had a lot of help and for opposition players to come off the park and just shake their head and say ‘I don’t know how we got away with that one’, I’ve never really had that in my career,” Montgomery said.
When asked about the decisions that went in his side’s favour, City boss Patrick Kisnorbo did not say much about those incidents. “For me the VAR or the refs are there to make a decision and that’s the decision that they made,” Kisnorbo said.
“Where I saw it but I didn’t see the actual … because the ball was blocking the foot, so I didn’t see the contact, but obviously Central Coast would say maybe it is a penalty. But to be honest with you, where I saw it, I didn’t see it greatly and end of the day, the VAR’s there to do their job and they said it wasn’t a pen so we move on.”
The Mariners took the lead in the 45th minute when Beni Nkololo coolly brought down a long ball skipped past Nuno Reis and Curtis Good to open the scoring.
The referee awarded a penalty to City three minutes later. But it was pretty clear that the challenge was outside the box. But he did not change his decision, and City equalised.
Florin Berenguer gave the lead to Melbourne City in the 57th minute after a chipped pass from Leckie. But Mariners reacted quickly and scored the equaliser with eight minutes with a goal from Oliver Bozanic.
In the 74th minute, City regained the lead with a goal from Marco Tilio.
Central Coast appeared certain to receive a penalty when Miller went down in the box in the 87th minute and had to come off after Leckie stepped on his foot. The referee went for the VAR but stood with his decision after a long five minutes of reviewing. Mariners protested, and Mariners coach Nick Montgomery received a yellow card. Goalkeeping coach Jess Vanstratten was sent off.