Victory recover twice to earn a draw
A ten-man Central Coast Mariners courageously held on for a 2-2 draw against Melbourne Victory in Saturday night's A-League clash at Etihad Stadium.
The draw means the Mariners drop from top spot, ending a run of three consecutive wins.
Central Coast defender Patrick Zwaanswijk was red-carded in the 50th minute after both sides scored two goals each in the first half.
But despite the urgings of the vocal home crowd of 19,462, the Victory simply couldn't penetrate the Mariners' sturdy defence.
Veteran striker Daniel McBreen was a first-half hero for the visitors with two goals to take his season's tally to seven.
McBreen put the Mariners ahead with a brilliant one-touch, left-foot shot in the fourth minute after Mile Sterjovski crossed the ball towards goal with the outside of his right boot
The Victory replied six minutes later through a strong header from teenager Andrew Nabbout, following a fine cross from creative midfielder Marco Rojas.
Nabbout's goal continued the teenager's fairytale run, coming into the starting side on Saturday night for ill Socceroos striker Archie Thompson after Nabbout scored twice as a substitute in last week's 3-2 win over Sydney FC.
McBreen showed his class by dancing around the Victory defence after seizing on a long ball from midfield to poke through his second goal for the match at the 22-minute mark as the Mariners regained the lead 2-1.
Mark Milligan's header into the net in the 40th minute allowed the Victory to draw level at 2-2.
Zwaanswijk had picked up a yellow card early in the first half for time-wasting and received a second and was sent off for leading with his elbow in a clumsy header challenge in midfielder against the Victory's Marcos Flores.
Rojas launched a shot from the penalty area which was saved on the goal-line by Central Coast defender Trent Sainsbury.
Flores didn't help the home side's chances when he gathered two yellow cards, one in the 65th minute for dissent and another in the 90th for a clumsy tackle, to also earn a send-off to make the contest 10 against 10.
Thompson was a late withdrawal because of a gastro complaint after vomiting during the warm-up.
A frustrated Victory skipper Adrian Leijer paid credit to Central Coast's defence.
"Against 10 men, you'd like to think we'd be able to get three points," he said.