Melbourne City FC has suffered a disappointing loss on the Central Coast, going down 2-1 to the bottom-of-the-ladder club.
The home side took the lead early on through Connor Pain before City’s ex-Mariner, Lachie Wales levelled with a strong header in the 77th minute. Then in the 88th minute, Mariners’ Matt Simon earned an dismissed his penalty but scored on the rebound following a strong hand from Galekovic.
City will look to return to winnings ways when Perth Glory come to town on Saturday 19 January before a quick turnaround to host Western Sydney Wanderers on Tuesday 22 January.
City Head Coach Warren Joyce made two changes to his starting XI with Osama Malik replacing Harrison Delbridge who was suspended after collecting five yellow cards, and Nathaniel Atkinson replacing Lachie Wales.
After impressing up front against Brisbane Roar, Ritchie De Laet resumed his place in attack while City also welcomed back Florin Berenguer, handing him a place on the bench after recovering from a calf injury sustained in Round 6.
In hot and humid conditions in Gosford, City started brightly against the Mariners but it was the home side that had the first real chance after Matt Simon failed to convert a dangerous cross from Tommy Oar.
After settling, City looked to hold onto possession, carefully probing the Mariners defence before Luke Brattan unleashed a 30-metre thunderbolt that rose just over the crossbar.
In the 20th minute, City were dealt another early injury blow with Osama Malik picking up a knock forcing Joyce to reshuffle, moving Atkinson back to right-back and bringing on Lachie Wales on the wing.
On the 31st minute, it Central Coast to draw first blood with Miller cutting in from the right before squaring to Connor Pain who lashed in a smart finish leaving Galekovic no chance.
The second half continued in the same vein as the first with City pressing and enjoying the lion’s share of possession, earning two free kicks from threatening positions in the first seven minutes, but to no avail.
The pressure continued to build with City working a number of crosses into the Mariners box in quick succession. First Luke Brattan and Lachie Wales combined with the latter fizzing in a dangerous cross before Wales once again broke free a minute later before seeing his cross cleared by the homeside.
On 65-minutes it was the turn of Rostyn Griffiths as City’s midfield enforcer had the home fans’ hearts in mouths when he hi ta powerful drive towards the top corner only to be denied by the outstretched Kennedy.
Two minutes later the Mariners broke forward with Connor Pain beating Schenkeveld and testing Galekovic down to the keeper’s right but not without drama as the City stopper fumbled onto the post and almost over the line.
City finally had their breakthrough on 77-minutes as former Mariners man, Lachie Wales rose highest to head home McGree’s corner and silence the Gosford locals.
As City continued to push for the winner, the game became more stretched with chances falling at both ends.
The last laugh went to the home side though as Mariners’ Matt Simon went down in the City box under pressure from Rostyn Griffiths and being awarded a penalty.
Despite a strong save from Galekovic, the ball rebounded kindly to Simon who made no mistake from the edge of the six-yard box and give the Mariners their first win of the season.
Despite a hard-fought display, it proved to be a disappointing loss for City who remain fourth on the A-League ladder heading into a huge game against Perth Glory at the weekend.
City face a short turnaround for a long weekend at AAMI Park, facing Perth Glory on Saturday 19 January before taking on Western Sydney Wanderers on 22 January. Both kicking off at 7.50pm.