In the clearing stands Maclaren and a striker by his trade.
Rain, hail or shine – it really doesn’t matter. The Melbourne City number nine will score.
Yes it’s a team sport, yes City closed the gap and yes this was a fifth consecutive win – the first time since 2014 the club had achieved this feat.
But these days it remains impossible to talk about City’s success without uttering the two words which would send shivers down the spines of the other 11 clubs: Jamie Maclaren.
He holds records all over place and added to his list when he became the quickest player to notch up 90 goals in Australian National League history – taking only 136 games to do so – when he placed Florin Berenguer’s cross in a near unreachable spot to open the scoring.
The Socceroo now sits among the league’s greats having equalled Archie Thompson’s goalscoring record, with Shane Smeltz’s (92 goals) spot in second now firmly in his sights.
While City fans will be holding their tongues, a win against the league’s form side in 2021 must certainly mean for something.
A fourth consecutive clean sheet sees last season’s runner-up set a new club record, while the fifth straight win makes the top half of the table just that little bit tighter with four points now separating the Mariners and City in first and fourth respectively.
Even despite losing centre-back Nuno Reis to a groin injury in the 17th minute City never looked in any danger of conceding.
Adrian Luna made his first appearance in a month and slotted in seamlessly after replacing the Portugese defender. The Uruguayan had two chances within a minute of each other in the first half: forcing a diving save from Birrighitti before his header from the resulting corner was cleared off the line by the Mariners goalkeeper.
It would be Nathaniel Atkinson who drive the nail in the coffin with a tidy finish just after half-time.
Dispossessing Jack Clisby of the ball in midfield, Atkinson surged forward and was ultimately rewarded with a goal when Nabbout’s deflected shot fell right into the young full-back’s path inside the box.
Central Coast was given a late glimmer of hope when referee Chris Beath spent what felt like an eternity consulting with the VAR after Alou Kuol collided with Connor Metcalfe inside the box – only to uphold his decision to not award a penalty.
MELBOURNE CITY 2 (Maclaren 31’, Atkinson 56’)
CENTRAL COAST MARINERS 0
Tom Glover, Scott Jamieson, Nuno Reis ( (Adrian Luna 17’) Scott Galloway 88’)), Rostyn Griffiths, Jamie Maclaren, Florin Berenguer (Stefan Colakovski 88’), Craig Noone (Ben Garuccio 77′), Nathaniel Atkinson, Andrew Nabbout (Naoki Tsubaki 88’), Connor Metcalfe, Curtis Good
Marco Tilio, Matt Sutton
Central Coast Mariners
Mark Birighitti, Josh Nisbet, Stefan Nigro (Daniel Hall 77’), Oliver Bozanic, Daniel De Silva (Jaden Casella 88’), Jack Clisby, Marcos Urena (Daniel Bouman 68’), Kye Rowles, Matt Simon (Alou Kuol 67’), Ruon Tongyik, Maximillien Balard (Michal Janota 46’)
Adam Pearce, Matthew Hatch,