Mariners go top of the table as rampant champions achieve something not seen since 2021

Check out the highlights as Macarthur FC hosted Central Coast Mariners in the Isuzu UTE A-League.

Another week and another win for red-hot Central Coast Mariners, who jumped to the top of the Isuzu UTE A-League standings with a dominant 3-0 victory over Macarthur FC.

Josh Nisbet was the architect with a goal and an assist as the rampant Mariners ended a round top of the table for the first time since Round 1 of the 2021-22 season – November 21, 2021 to be exact.

Socceroos candidate Nisbet broke the deadlock in the eighth minute before teeing up Ronald Barcellos 11 minutes later in Campbelltown on Sunday.

Defending champions the Mariners, who have lost just one of their past 22 matches in all competitions, then sealed the deal with an incredible coast-to-coast goal that ended with Ryan Edmondson scoring after Macarthur’s Filip Kurto had early saved a penalty.

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Central Coast leapfrogged Wellington Phoenix at the summit on games won through 21 with both teams level on 40 points, while Macarthur remain fourth but are eight points off the pace.

After the contest, much was made of Nisbet’s continued excellence this season following his man-of-the-match performance as calls grow for him to be called up by the Socceroos.

“To get where his got, given the hurdles placed in front of him because of his physical stature and the fact that for a lot of people in the game, that just means you can’t be a footballer,” Paramount+ analyst and former NSL striker Andy Harper said post-match.

“He’s learnt a lot of resilience, I’m presuming. I can’t wait for the day he decides to tell his story.

“So missing a couple of goals where he can do better and he’s showing that he can do better in an A-League match is nothing compared to those personal tribulations over many years as a teenager probably full of self-doubt like most teenagers. But he’s knuckled through it with belief and commitment, and he’s now the leading light in the top team in the country.”

Harper added: “This is not just a flash-in-the-pan season for Nisbet… You think to last season when they won the Championship and about eight weeks before the finals, they lost a couple of matches and he got a haircut from Monty (ex-coach Nick Montgomery). I’m interpreting it as a haircut but he was left out of the team for a couple of weeks and Monty did, I’m assuming, for a very good reason. To straighten him up and get him re-focused.

“He came back into the team and the Mariners just set a b-line for the Championship, culminating in that epic Grand Final demolition of Melbourne City. He’s carried it through to this year.

“There’s not a lot of physique but there’s a huge man leading this club. Not necessarily the captain but the performances are evidently central to what this team are doing.”

The Mariners were back in action after Thursday’s 4-0 win over Odisha FC in the opening leg of their AFC Cup Inter Zonal Semi Final, while they were back in Campbelltown for the first time since securing the club’s spot in that stage of the Asian competition.

A 120th-minute goal from Barcellos guided Central Coast past Macarthur last month.

On Sunday, the Mariners dominated from the outset and hit the front through just eight minutes.

Nisbet scored an almost carbon-copy goal of the one he netted in last week’s F3 Derby – the fan favourite received the ball, turned and found the back of the net from the edge of the area.

Touted for a Socceroos call-up ahead of this month’s 2026 FIFA Men’s World Cup qualifiers, Nisbet entered the contest having made a league-high six assists this season, 3.76 higher than his Expected Assists for the campaign; in fact, no Isuzu UTE A-League player has outperformed their xA by more this season.

He turned provider in the 19th minute and providing the assist for Barcellos, who slotted the ball past Filip Kurto after Nisbet’s nutmeg pass.

The Mariners had the chance to move 3-0 ahead four minutes into the second half after Matt Jurman was penalised for a handball inside the area. But Angel Torres saw his low spot-kick saved by Kurto.

Central Coast might have had a penalty saved but they were not to be denied a third goal 10 minutes into the second half in a stunning box-to-back goal.

It started from inside the Mariners’ penalty area as Nisbet got on the ball and released Mikael Doka on the flank. Within two passes and almost the entire length of the field, the ball was in the back of the net after Edmondson curled his shot into the net.