Unsung Millar shattering expectations to spark Mariners into life
Matt Millar has flown under the radar from day one in Gosford.
It was the twin-capture of Tommy Oar and Ross McCormack, a double-signing to spear-head a bright new era under Mike Mulvey, that captured pre-season fanfare at the Central Coast Mariners.
Both Oar and McCormack arrived as a package to propel the struggling club back up the Hyundai A-League ladder.
However, that wish has proven something of a false dawn, and it has been the criminally overlooked signing of Millar who is carrying the mantle many may have expected his higher-profile teammates to burden.
Now, having clinched his maiden Hyundai A-League goal in Sunday night's 1-1 draw with Brisbane Roar, it is clear that Millar is the new face of optimism suddenly bubbling around the Mariners again.
In truth, Millar has been a true positive stroke in a campaign which has lurched on the cusp of disaster.
It is a mark of the 22-year-old's impressive standing and undoubted potential that he has been a perennial silver lining for the Mariners from his club debut.
New signings can struggle to adapt to their environment, and it is a testament of Millar's quality that he has thrived in what has been a baptism of fire in Gosford.
What makes the feat more impressive is how the former South Melbourne man has adjusted to Hyundai A-League life from the NPL Victoria, so much so that he could become a flag-bearer for the hidden gems plying their trade in the national division.
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On Sunday night, Central Coast's right-sided dynamo was arguably once again their finest performer on the night.
Offering a unique combination of agility, pace and craft from the right flank, Millar has been deployed by Mulvey in a variety of roles over the course of the season.
But it has been from right wing-back which Millar flourished against Roar, an assignment tailored to extract every ounce of his industry and one which highlights a new-found confidence and aggression the Mariners are playing with in order to salvage their season.