Arnold happy with maiden hitout

Central Coast Mariners Head Coach Graham Arnold says he likes what he has seen so far, after watching his side draw 1-all with Adelaide United in a post-season friendly match at Hindmarsh Stadium.

Central Coast Mariners Head Coach Graham Arnold says he likes what he has seen so far, after watching his side draw 1-all with Adelaide United in a post-season friendly match at Hindmarsh Stadium.

While the match was designed to assist Aurelio Vidmar-s men prepare for their next Asian Champions League clash against Sanfrecce Hiroshima, Arnold said he too took plenty out of watching the Mariners from his new perspective for the first time.

“I-ve only had a couple of weeks with them, that was the first game we-ve had, getting a lot of young players in, having a look at some players and we-ve worked a little bit on our defensive shape, but overall I was very happy,” said Arnold.

The Mariners began well before Marcos Flores headed his side in front, the lead was shortlived though as Matt Simon restored parity late in the first half, to ensure Arnold-s reign wouldn-t begin on a bad note.

It was the Yellow and Navy who fired the first salvo, as Matt Simon played Matthew Lewis in the left channel, whose shot cannoned off an Adelaide defender and out for a corner, the resultant set piece was only marginally too heavy for Alex Wilkinson at the back post.

Simon was proving a nuisance for the Adelaide defence early on, and he nearly had a reward but couldn-t quite reach a good ball in from Adam Kwasnik, who began the match on the right wing.

Lewis played a lovely ball over the top for Panny Nikas on 15 minutes as the Mariners continued to push forward in the early stages, and while he managed to shrug off his defender, Eugene Galekovic did well to get a finger on it and push the shot wide.

The Central Coast would have been content with the way the first period had played out until a lack of concentration immediately after the first half drinks break gave the hosts the advantage.

The Reds swung in a dangerous ball from the right and it made it all the way to Lucas Pantelis in the left corner, his return delivery found Marcos Flores, who was unmarked inside the six yard box, and calmly headed past Danny Vukovic.

The referee waved away furious claims for a penalty from the home side on the half hour, and the Mariners made the most of the break, taking good field position at the other end.

That dominance was converted into an equaliser as Nikas and Pedj Bojic combined well in the right corner, and Bojic fired a clinical ball into the area, where Simon expertly turned on it and fired past Galekovic.

There was one final chance for the visitors as the clock wound down, when young Australian Institute of Sport left back Marc Warren played a clever one-two with Lewis for the trialist to whip a ball in just out of reach of Simon-s outstretched leg.

With Adelaide making ten changes at half time the Mariners tactics would have to change slightly, and they very nearly took the lead just four minutes after the resumption, as Bojic played another wicked ball into the area, and the National Youth League captain could only watch his poke trickle agonisingly past the post, after snatching it off replacement goalkeeper Mark Birighitti.

Bojic was causing the hosts plenty of headaches down the right, another ball in found Simon lurking at the back post, but his header was easy pickings for Birighitti.

Brady Smith, on for Adam Kwasnik, had a golden opportunity to grab what would have been the Mariners- winner, when Adam Griffiths hesitated on the ball facing his own ‘keeper, allowing Smith to snatch it, and force the Reds- custodian into a fine diving save low to his left.

Warren, a standout for the Yellow and Navy, showed great endurance in pushing the ball past his man and successfully chasing it down deep in his own half in the 87th minute, before feeding Nikas, who in turn plays a delightful ball for Lewis charging down the left, but the assistant referee ruled Lewis- run wasn-t timed quite as well as the Central Coast bench had thought, flagging the youngster offside, and ensuring scores would remain level.

“Marc Warren at left back, a 17-year-old boy out of the institute and a lot of the young boys, especially in their first game against big time players that Adelaide have got, they may have got overawed but we were very happy we put in that type of effort, especially for a team that hasn-t played since February 13 but have been training on for a month, the commitment and the intensity was fantastic.

“There will be another seven or eight players coming into the Mariners over the next few months to consider the squad dramatically, I-m overseas to get some good visa players in the next month, so it-s a big job, but I-m very excited about it,” Arnold said.

Match Details

Adelaide United (first half): 1. Eugene GALEKOVIC (GK), 2. Robert CORNTHWAITE, 4. Iain FYFE, 5. Daniel MULLEN, 6. CASSIO, 7, Lucas PANTELIS, 9. Sergio VAN DIJK, 14. Scott JAMIESON, 17. Michael MARRONE, 19. Matthew LECKIE, 24. Marcos FLORES.

Adelaide United (second half): 20. Mark BIRIGHITTI (GK), 3. Nigel BOOGAARD, 6, CASSIO, 10. Adam HUGHES, 12. Paul REID, 15. Francesco MONTEROSSO, 16. Inseob SHIN, 18. Fabian BARBIERO, 22. Dane MILOVANOVIC, 23. Joe COSTA, 27. Adam GRIFFITHS.

Central Coast Mariners: 20. Danny VUKOVIC (GK), 2. Matthew CROWELL, 4. Pedj BOJIC, 5. Brad PORTER, 10. Panny NIKAS, 12. Matthew LEWIS (16. Bernie IBINI ISEI 56-), 17. Chris DOIG (9. Trent SAINSBURY 70-), 18. Alex WILKINSON (C), 19. Matt SIMON, 21. Mark WARREN, 23. Adam KWASNIK (6. Brady SMITH 68-).

Unused Subs: 1. Mathew RYAN (GK), 15, Andrew CLARK.

Referee: Regis QUEFFELEC