Mariners choke lead in derby loss to Newcastle

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It was a familiar story for the struggling Gosford club

Central Coast Mariners let a golden chance slip against their regional rivals, giving up a lead to lose 2-1 against Newcastle Jets in the F3 derby in Gosford on Sunday.

The result meant Mike Mulvey's team have had the worst start ever to an A-League season - with no wins and only two points in their first nine matches.

The Mariners started brightly and were rewarded in the 36th minute after a superb work down the right hand side saw Matthew Millar lift the cross to the back post and skipper Matt Simon on hand to head home.

Newcastle weren't without their chances in the first half - Dimitri Petratos and Jair both missed the target from areas they should have been testing the keeper.

With the pro-Mariners crowd excited about being ahead of their rivals, Connor Pain had two guilt edged opportunities to extend their lead early in the second period but was thwarted on both occasions by Jets keeper Glen Moss.

Not long after Pain's misses, Jason Hoffman rose highest from a corner to head home Newcastle's equaliser in the 66th minute.

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Ernie Merrick's side had all the momentum and after Kaine Sheppard had a goal correctly disallowed for offside, the Jets winner eventually came on 82 minutes.

Hoffman played a superb ball to set free Vargas, who executed a brilliantly first touch and lashed home an unstoppable shot past Mariners stopper Adam Pearce.

It was more heartbreak for the Mariners, who remain on the bottom of the A-League table, while the Jets move up to seventh - three points shy of Adelaide United.

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