THE Western NSW Mariners FC sprung the upset of the National Premier Leagues 3 round on Saturday night when beating Dulwich Hill 1-0 at Proctor Park.
Dulwich went into the match sitting third on the ladder, having scored more than twice as many goals as the Mariners through the opening nine rounds of the competition.
The Mariners sat in 13th spot, but in the previous fortnight had shown improved form. The hosts also carried the confidence that came from a draw with the SD Raiders and reaching the fifth round of the Football Federation Australia Cup.
That confidence showed as the Mariners sprung an upset on home turf, Jaiden Culbert’s 21st minute strike the only goal of the match.
Culbert’s effort added to the brace he scored a week earlier against the Raiders.
“I moved him to nine and he’s scored three goals in two weeks. He’s done well obviously, we’ve created some good chances and Jaiden has been in the right position to finish those off,” Mariners coach Andrew Fearnley said.
While Culbert scored the winner, Saturday night’s success was built around a solid team performance from the Mariners. Fearnley was in particular pleased with the effort his players showed when pressured by Dulwich’s forwards.
“We showed a lot of defensive character and we showed a lot of intensity in our play. We’d been playing well for a number of weeks and not getting the results and I think we showed some good defensive solidarity on the weekend,” the coach said.
“We took a chance early, which was important, and we had other chances where we should have made it 2-0 to take the game away from them. But they had some chances they probably regret not making the most of as well.
“I certainly think we deserved to win.”
Adding further merit to the win over Dulwich Hill, who have improved after placing 10th last season, was how the Mariners adjusted to some forced substitutions.
Alejandro Dellerba had to replaced after 30 minutes due to injury, while Matt Hobby took no part in the second half after he too was injured.
Then with 10 minutes of the match remaining, Culbert was injured as well.
“They were very physical, but we dealt with it quite well I thought and we played it out for the 97 minutes which it ended up being,” Fearnley said.
“There were a lot of things that went against us like in previous games, but we managed to show the resolve and were able to pick up the points.
“It was a good sign and if we are able to replicate that sort of performance, we will be able to get points more regularly.”