The Newcastle Jets secured a much-needed win, as they collected their fifth consecutive F3 Derby victory in a scrappy affair this evening.
Merrick rang in the changes to contend with three games in the space of seven days, with Boogaard and Ridenton rested while Jair and Vargas started on the bench.
The Jets opened proceedings strongly, as a low Dimi Petratos cross almost found Roy O’Donoavan, while Steven Ugarkovic fired a dangerous ball into the area to test Kennedy in the first few minutes.
The Jets thought they had the opener at the quarter-hour mark, as Petratos found Topor-Stanley at the back post from an attacking free kick. However, celebrations were soon muted, as the Assistant raised his flag and VAR confirmed an illegal run from the centre back.
Merrick’s side controlled the majority of possession and territory, putting plenty of pressure on the Mariners in the opening half, as they looked to avoid their fifth consecutive Derby defeat.
The match developed into a somewhat fiery encounter, as Murray and Cowburn clashed heads in an aerial challenge, while Kaine Sheppard required some serious running repairs after contact from Aiden O’Neill.
Tensions threatened to boil over after an ugly challenge from Jack Clisby on Daniel Georgievski, but things simmered and the half would eventually finish all square.
It would be Sheppard who would open the scoring in the second half thanks to a wonderful square ball from Roy O’Donovan. Petratos was the architect, with a ball over the top of the Mariners defence to create the space, with Sheppard finishing clinically with his favoured left foot to beat a helpless Ben Kennedy.
The Mariners responded with a few chances of their own, and almost levelled the scoring through Murray, if not for a clutch goal line clearance from Ivan Vujica.
The young defender returned to the XI and performed strongly on the left, as he battled it out with Matt Millar for much of the evening.
Lachlan Jackson made his own defensive clearance to keep the Jets in front, getting a boot in to dispossess Pain in front of an open goal.
The Mariners sensed an opportunity to level late and threw numbers forward, with some heart-in-mouth moments for the 9,000 strong crowd in for the midweek fixture.
Mitch Austin went close to burying the visitors hopes in the dying stages, flashing down the left edge on the counter but his powerful effort went wide of goal.
The Jets held on and secured a vital three points, as they now focus on a trip to Perth this Sunday.