By Lance Jenkinson
A Max Burgess-inspired Western United broke out of its goal scoring slump in a rampaging 6-2 win over Central Coast Mariners in the A-League at GMHBA Stadium in Geelong on Sunday.
Burgess played a stunning role on an extraordinary afternoon for United, which ended a three-game goal-less streak with a six-pack for the goal-thirsty supporters.
The story of the day was Burgess, who not only scored for the first time in his 45-game A-League career, but finished the game with a hat-trick.
Even more remarkable, Burgess’ triple treat of goals all came in the first half, within 18 minutes of each other.
Burgess broke his career goal drought in the 25th minute through sheer persistence.
A nice ball from Alessandro Diamanti was cut off by Mariners defender Kim Eun-sun, but the clearance only trickled to Burgess, who unleashed a low and hard ball from outside the box into the bottom corner.
After waiting just under 4000 minutes for his first A-League goal, Burgess only had to wait five more minutes for his second.
The 25-year-old powered home from an acute angle on the back of some nice distribution from winger Connor Pain.
Burgess completed his hat-trick two minutes before the break, pouncing for a tap in after striker Besart Berisha’s shot hit the woodwork.
A keen follower of the A-League growing up, a hat-trick was dream come true for attacking midfielder Burgess.
“It was a little bit surreal to be fair because I used to be one of those little kids in the stands, so it was probably a moment to cherish,” he said.
“They’re the real surreal moments and yeah football and sport is all about the moments, so I’ll definitely remember this one today.”
It was Berisha who bookended the Western United scoring avalanche.
He kick-started the engine when he headed home a delightful Diamanti cross from a free kick in the ninth minute, then completed the rout in the 89th minute with a tap in.
Western United will take flight to the city of churches to face Adelaide United on Saturday evening at Hindmarsh Stadium.
The last time the two sides met United was pipped in a seven-goal thriller at the Whitten Oval.