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  • Connor Pain has predominantly been used as an impact player off the bench by Kevin Muscat (Getty Images)Source: Getty Images
Connor Pain’s A-League debut in Central Coast Mariners colours was proficient and he provides Paul Okon’s club with the pace they need, writes Luke Sicari.
By
Luke Sicari

13 Oct 2016 - 3:53 PM  UPDATED 13 Oct 2016 - 3:53 PM

The Mariners were left behind in the A-League’s goal rush last season, putting just 33 balls in the back of the net, the second-worst rate in the competition.

One of the main reasons Central Coast had little scoring firepower was their lack of creativity and pace on the wings. 

The club’s best attacking option from the midfield, Mitch Austin, left for Melbourne Victory, which left the Mariners little hope for an increase in offensive productivity.

However, as one youngster left for Victory, the Mariners gained one from Melbourne in Pain.

Starved off opportunities in Melbourne, Pain was often used off the bench. His lightening quick pace meant Pain fitted the mould of a 10-minute spark plug perfectly.   

Pain showed glimpses of what he can provide while playing with the Victory. The left-winger provides quickness, makes smart decisions and can adequately set up his teammates.    

Now in Central Coast, where plenty of opportunities will be available, Pain is poised for a big season.

After just one game, Pain’s influence has already been felt.

In the Mariners’ thrilling 3-3 draw against Perth Glory, a game where Central Coast overcame a 3-0 deficit, Pain was prolific.  

Pain’s clinical ball into the middle of the box set-up Kwabena Appiah-Kubi’s shot, which led to a deflection and goal from Blake Powell. It was Pain’s pace that allowed him to get the better of a trio of Glory defenders, a luxury the Mariners haven’t had previously.

Just minutes later, Pain was the focal point in the lead-up to the Mariners’ third and decisive goal.

While Pain’s pass to Roy O’Donovan was slightly over hit, it created the angle that forced Rhys Williams to knock O’Donovan off the ball. O’Donovan scored the subsequent penalty to complete Central Coast’s comeback.

If Pain’s performance against Perth turns out to be a microcosm of his season, then it’ll be a breakout one for the 22-year old.

“To go into the sheds at 3-0 down we were a bit worried at what was to happen but we came out a different team,” Pain said after the game, via Matt Dorman of a-league.com.au.

“I think that’s an absolute credit to the lads. That’s what we’ve got to change at Central Coast and that’s what we’ve got to make better.

“I thought we were absolutely fantastic.”

This is another intangible that Pain brings to Central Coast.

Coming from a winning culture in Melbourne, Pain brings a winners mentality to a club that desperately needs it.

That internal belief, along with his on-pitch pace, should hold Pain in good stead for the reminder of the season.