Usain Bolt scores two goals for Central Coast Mariners
Usain Bolt might not be ready for the rigours of an A-League campaign just yet, but he showed a glimpse of what someone with his physical gifts can achieve in the sport, bagging his first goals for the Central Coast Mariners at Campbelltown Stadium on Friday night.
"It was a big deal. Scoring a goal in your first proper match … it's a good feeling," he said on the sideline after being subbed off.
Usain Bolt takes a shot at goal during an A-League trial match between the Central Coast Mariners and Macarthur South West United at Campbelltown Stadium in Sydney on Friday.Credit:AAP
"I'm learning a lot … I've been improving quickly, I personally feel."
His second-half goal against Macarthur South West United put the Mariners 3-0 up, as almost 6000 people packed in to see the Olympic legend, and then added a gift second – but in reality he could have scored a few more in the 4-0 win.
It was nearly the dream start for Bolt when in the second minute, a mix-up at the back saw the ball at the feet of the Jamaican near the halfway line, with only green grass in front of him.
Although running in a straight line is what he's known for, it's a much more difficult task with a football at your feet. His first touch was clumsy and he never recovered, barely making it to the 18-yard box before a covering tackle saw the ball roll away for a corner.
"I just panicked a little bit," Bolt said of that early chance.
"The more you play, the more you learn and get accustomed to the game."
The Mariners wouldn't have to wait long for a goal after that, with new signing Tommy Oar swinging a ball in from the left after seven minutes for fellow fresh face Ross McCormack to head home.
If Mike Mulvey's men want to challenge for the finals this season, you would think those two names would have a lot to do with it – but it's looking increasingly likely that you won't see Bolt's name next to theirs on a competitive team sheet, at least not in the upcoming campaign.
The world's fastest man floated around the field, popping up with a couple of decent touches, but his only other notable moment early on came as he copped a boot to the groin from Macarthur defender Tom Whiteside – to add insult to injury, the flag then went up for offside.
Midway through the half another chance presented itself to Bolt, who lost possession in the area only for the ricochet to send the ball right back to him. From a narrow angle he pulled the trigger with his left boot, but it was blocked and then gathered by grateful keeper Eze Consoni.
With just over five minutes remaining in the half, Oar produced another ripper of a cross – and this time it was right on the head of the man everyone came to see. Bolt timed his jump perfectly to meet the cross, but the header was agonisingly wide of the post with the keeper beaten, as the crowd groaned. It was easily his best moment to date in a Mariners jersey.
Usain Bolt is tackled by Josh Symons of Macarthur during Friday night’s trial match.Credit:AAP
Central Coast would grab their second before the interval, former APIA Leichhardt goal fiend Jordan Murray nodding home from a corner. The 23-year-old set a NSW NPL record last year, netting 23 times for the club before being snapped up by the Mariners.
The A-League club went into the sheds 2-0 ahead, and very nearly extended in the opening moments of the second period. First a ball in from the right evaded Bolt, then a left-footed effort from Murray curled wide of the post.
In the 52nd minute a second headed chance came Bolt's way, but this time he got his angles completely wrong and set his effort high and wide of the goal by a distance.
The chances were coming thick and fast for the nine-time gold medal winner, playing a one-two with McCormack only to whiff on the return ball in a glorious position.
Two minutes later, however, McCormack was again the provider and this time a dinked through ball put Bolt in the clear, who pushed away from defender Josh Symons and drilled a left-footed finish past Consoni.
His trademark celebration followed as the crowd roared and a slew of fireworks lit up the night sky, but Bolt wasn't done.
As his manager was being interviewed on the sideline, a defensive mix-up at the back saw defender and keeper crash into each other, and Bolt on hand to tap into an empty net for his second, just as he was to be substituted.
He begged for five more minutes as he chased his hat trick. He was subbed off after 74 minutes, as the crowd booed, hoping to see him grab a third.
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