Macarthur FC have overcome the best efforts of Central Coast young gun Garang Kuol to record a last-minute 3-2 win and send the Mariners' Socceroos' triumvirate crashing back to earth.
Super-sub Kuol saved his best performance of the A-League Men season for the last match before the World Cup, scoring two goals in a game-changing performance that helped erase the Bulls' 2-0 lead.
But the Mariners were unable to send Kuol, Jason Cummings and Danny Vukovic off to Qatar as winners, instead conceding a late goal when Jed Drew streaked away in the final minute of stoppage time.
"It's a cruel game at times," Mariners coach Nick Montgomery said.
"We've had double the number of shots, double the number of shots on target
"Looking back, reflecting on that, we should have won the game."
The Mariners went into halftime down 1-0 after Vukovic accidentally kicked the ball straight to Al Hassan Toure, who scored an easy goal in the 13th minute.
Things didn't become any rosier for the Mariners, who lost Brian Kaltak to a red card in the 30th minute when he was ruled to have impeded Lachie Rose just outside the box.
Kaltak's arms made clear contact with the forward's upper body as he fell to the ground, yet Montgomery was left deeply frustrated by the call.
"I think it's outrageous, I really do," Montgomery said of the red card.
"We don't want the game littered with decisions that people are talking about.
"We should be talking about a good game of football and the youngest team with the lowest budget with 10 men for 60 minutes against a big-budget Macarthur outfit, dominating the game."
Montgomery confirmed he would seek an explanation from the A-League after he was yellow-carded himself for discussing Kaltak's send-off with the Bulls bench.
After the Mariners bled a soft goal just after the break, Cummings appeared to have pegged one back, only for the referee to deny the Scotsman on the grounds he had already blown the whistle for a foul in the area.
"The amount of goals that Jason's had disallowed this year, I think it's scandalous," Montgomery said.
Cummings had his subsequent penalty shot blocked by Nicholas Suman but the young Bulls 'keeper would not keep Kuol from scoring his first goal of the season from his own spot kick minutes later.
The Premier League-bound forward secured his double with an early contender for goal of the season.
An ambitious cross found Kuol at a sharp angle to the goal but the degree of difficulty did not faze him as he thundered the ball into the top corner of the net.
"He single-handedly changed the game for them," Bulls coach Dwight Yorke said.
"He's been doing it for the past two games. You can see why he's an exciting talent. He probably doesn't deserve to lose the game."
Riding high with the scores equal, the Mariners continued on the attack but it was the Bulls who sealed the result when Drew netted the winner.
The result hoists the Bulls into fourth spot heading into the World Cup break, while the Mariners fall to fifth.
"We really needed the three points to go into the break on a real positive note after a couple of defeats in recent times," Yorke said.