Central Coast Mariners 1-0 Newcastle Jets: Kuol's first A-League goal gets hosts off to winning start

By Sports Desk December 31, 2020

Central Coast Mariners kicked off their 2020-21 A-League campaign with a 1-0 win over Newcastle Jets on Thursday thanks to Alou Kuol's first-half header at the Central Coast Stadium.

Teenage forward Kuol profited from some hesitant Jets defending to guide in Stefan Nigro's deep free-kick and earn the hosts bragging rights in the F3 Derby.

It marks a first league victory on home soil for the Mariners in nine attempts, while it meant they picked up successive wins in the competition for the first time since December 2017, having ended last term with a 3-2 win over Melbourne Victory at Jubilee Stadium.

The team now coached by Alen Stajcic have finished bottom of the ladder in each of the last three seasons but made a bright start against their neighbours and took the lead after 43 minutes.

Nigro floated in a deep delivery and neither Nikolai Topor-Stanley nor Connor O'Toole could cut it out, allowing Kuol to nip in ahead of Jack Duncan for his maiden league goal.

The visitors had only lost one of their previous nine A-League encounters with the Mariners but could not find a way through in a scoreless second half in Gosford.

That was largely thanks to some heroics from Mark Birighitti, who produced fine saves to keep out Kosta Petratos and Angus Thurgate, tipping the latter's shot onto the crossbar.

Substitute Daniel De Silva brushed the wrong side of the post at the other end of the field, though in the end Kuol's goal proved enough to seal the win for Stajcic's men.

Related items

  • Montego Bay United forward Beckford secures loan move to USL's Colorado Switchbacks Montego Bay United forward Beckford secures loan move to USL's Colorado Switchbacks

    Former Jamaica U-23 and Montego Bay United forward, Deshane Beckford, is expected to join USL Championship club Colorado Switchbacks on a season-long loan.

    The move will mark the second for the Jamaica national over the past several years, after first joining the Rio Grande Valley FC Toros at the end of 2019.  Beckford also spent the 2020 season with the Toros.

    In 22 USL Championship appearances, the forward has scored three goals.  Brown put himself on the radar of the USL after a strong performance at the 2019 Pan American Games where he scored three goals for Jamaica in three games.  The forward also previously represented Jamaica at the U-17 level.

    The move remains dependent on the player renewing a work visa, but Beckford expressed delight with the opportunity to continue plying his trade in the US second division.

     “I'm grateful to be a part of the Switchbacks, the players and staff have been really positive,” Beckford told USL Championship.com.

     “I'm excited for the upcoming season.”

    The 23-year-old previously trialed for West Ham in 2015.  Colorado Springs coach Brendan Burke welcomed Beckford’s addition to the line-up.

    “Deshane is a player that impressed us immensely during his performance with the Jamaican U23 team in the Pan American Games,” Burke said.

    “His pace, soft feet, and nose for goal should add another weapon to our still-evolving group of forwards.”

  • LaMarcus Aldridge announces retirement due to heart issue LaMarcus Aldridge announces retirement due to heart issue

    LaMarcus Aldridge has announced his immediate retirement after experiencing a health scare in what turned out to be his final NBA game.

    Aldridge revealed that he played against the Los Angeles Lakers on Saturday while dealing with an irregular heartbeat – an issue that became worse following the 126-101 defeat for the Brooklyn Nets.

    The seven-time All-Star was listed as out due to a non-COVID-related illness for the Nets' next two outings in the regular season, against the Minnesota Timberwolves and the Philadelphia 76ers.

    Now the full extent of the issue has been revealed by the 35-year-old in a statement posted on social media, during which he made clear the time has come to put his health – and also his family – first.

    "Today, I write this letter with a heavy heart. My last game, I played while dealing with an irregular heartbeat. Later on that night, my rhythm got even worse, which really worried me even more," Aldridge explained.

    "The next morning, I told the team what was going on and they were great getting me to the hospital and getting me checked out. Though I’m better now, what I felt with my heart that night was still one of the scariest things I’ve experienced.

    "With that being said, I've made the difficult decision to retire from the NBA. For 15 years, I've put basketball first, and now it is time to put my health and family first."

    Aldridge had only joined the Nets at the end of March as a free agent, averaging 12.8 points in five games after agreeing a contract buyout with the San Antonio Spurs.

    However, the second overall pick by the Chicago Bulls in the 2006 draft spent the majority of his career with the Portland Trail Blazers, scoring 12,562 points to sit third on the franchise's all-time list.

    Signed by the Spurs ahead of the 2015-16 season, Aldridge helped San Antonio reach the Western Conference Finals in 2017, though they were swept by the Golden State Warriors in that series.

    "I'm thankful for everything this game has given me: the great memories, including all the ups and downs, and the friendships I've made and will keep with me forever," Aldridge continued.

    "I thank Portland for drafting a skinny Texas kid and giving him a chance. The city of Portland has given me some unforgettable years.

    "They will always remain in my heart. I want to thank the Spurs for letting me into the family and giving me five fun years.

    "Last but not least, I want to thank Brooklyn. You wanted me for me. In a game that's changing so much, you asked me to come and just do what I do, which was good to hear. I’m sorry it didn't get to last long, but I've definitely had fun being a part of this special group.

    "You never know when something will come to an end, so make sure you enjoy it every day. I can truly say I did just that."

    Aldridge played in 1,029 NBA games and finishes up averaging 19.4 points and 8.2 rebounds. 

  • From Rule 5 pick to MLB sensation: Rapid rise of history-making Tigers rookie Akil Baddoo From Rule 5 pick to MLB sensation: Rapid rise of history-making Tigers rookie Akil Baddoo

    Akil Baddoo is the name on everyone's lips.

    Baddoo has shattered records from his very first pitch in MLB this month amid an incredible rise from unheralded Rule 5 pick to the biggest sensation in baseball.

    The 22-year-old Detroit Tigers outfielder is already the first player in modern MLB history (dating back to 1901) to hit a grand slam, another home run and a walk-off hit in his first three career games.

    But Baddoo's story is one of perseverance. Let's rewind back to May 2019. He was forced to undergo Tommy John surgery.

    If sitting out the 2019 campaign was not bad enough, he missed last season when the minor leagues were shut down due to the coronavirus pandemic.

    During the winter's Rule five draft in December, Baddoo was taken by the Tigers, having initially been drafted out of high school by the Minnesota Twins in 2016.

    The Rule 5 draft aims at preventing franchises from stockpiling too many young players on their minor league affiliate teams when other clubs would be prepared to play them in the major leagues. If chosen, a player must be kept on the selecting team's major league active roster for the entire season.

    "If you think about it, he's gone through so much," Baddoo's mother Akilah said. "And then this opportunity came, and it was like, 'This can't be a joke. There's a plan for you. You got to know that'."

    In the least likely of places, the Tigers appear to have landed a gem, and Baddoo is making the most of his opportunity, immediately becoming a cult hero in Detroit.

    Baddoo had 233 career minor leagues games to his name, but none above Class A as he earned a place on the Opening Day roster after hitting .325 in Spring Training with five home runs. However, the Maryland native looked like a man for the big stage.

    In his opening at-bat on April 4, Baddoo homered in a memorable maiden outing for the Tigers, driving to left field in the bottom of the third inning against the Cleveland Indians.

    "I'm just living in the moment," Baddoo said post-game after becoming the ninth player in Tigers franchise history to hit a home run in his first major league at-bat and only the second to do so on the first pitch, following George Vico in 1948. "I got a good pitch to hit, and I was able to hit it in front of my family and everyone."

    If that was not enough, Baddoo continued the fairy-tale week by hitting his first career grand slam against the Twins the following day. He became the first Tiger to homer in each of his first two MLB games and the first player in major league history to homer out of the ninth spot of the batting order in his first two career games. Baddoo was also the first player in franchise history to hit a slam within his opening two games.

    Baddoo has continually showed maturity beyond his years as the rookie adds to his growing legend. Taking over Motor City, he then delivered a walk-off shot to sink his old team the Twins 24 hours later.

    His game-winning hit saw him become the first Detroit player with a walk-off shot within his first three MLB games since 1998.

    Baddoo is yet to drop off, his history-making season continuing with a homer against the Houston Astros on Tuesday. Through eight games, he took his tally to four home runs, a double and a triple. According to Stats Perform, his slugging percentage at the time – 1.043 – was the highest in American League (AL) history after eight games.

    After his RBI double against the Astros on Wednesday, Baddoo has now driven in at least one run in seven of his first nine career games, the second Tiger in franchise history to do so, following Dale Alexander in 1929.

    Since 1920, only George Shuba (eight) managed more RBIs in his first nine career games across MLB, according to Stats Perform.

    As it stands, Baddoo's slugging percentage stands at .963 (which ranks eighth all-time through first nine career games since 1901) with 11 RBI. If you combine his RBI and SLG percentage, he is one of four players to have 11-plus RBI and a 900-plus SLG over his first nine career games, after Trevor Story (13/.974 – 38/39 in 2016), Taylor Teagarden (12/1.000 – 29/29 in 2008) and Dave Kingman (11/1.105 – 21/19 in 1971).

    Baddoo was rated as Detroit's fifth outfielder before the start of the season, so how does he compare to his team-mates?

    Counting only plate appearances while playing outfielder, Baddoo's .370 average, .379 on-base percentage, .963 SLG, 1.342 OPS, four homers and 11 RBI are more than the team's other outfielders combined –.190 AVG, .277 OBP, .330 SLG, .607 OPS, three home runs and nine RBI.

    As for the team who left their prospect unprotected, Minnesota's outfielders have tallied a .263 AVG, .331 OBS and .474 SLG so far this season – numbers surpassed by Baddoo.

    Baddoo is flying the flag for Rule 5 picks – Roberto Clemente is the only player out of that unheralded draft to earn Hall of Fame honours.

    Following an 18-season career, Clemente – who died in a plane crash at the age of 38 in 1972 – was a 15-time All-Star, two-time World Series champion, 1966 National League (NL) MVP, World Series MVP and 12-time Gold Glove winner.

    Is Baddoo destined for a Hall of Fame career?

    At the same stage of their careers, Baddoo trumps Clemente in all categories: AVG (.370 to .316), OBP (.379 to .325), SLG (.963 to .500), OPS (1.342 to .825), home runs (four to one), RBI (11 to six) and runs (five to three).

    "Obviously he has the talent to do a lot of different things, I knew he'd give me everything he's got," Tigers manager AJ Hinch has said previously. "That was evident from the beginning."

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.