The Central Coast Mariners have equaled the club’s greatest ever winning margin, with a momentous 4-nil drubbing of reigning double winner Melbourne Victory at Etihad Stadium, to help close the gap on what was threatening to be a runaway top two.
The Central Coast Mariners have equalled the club-s greatest ever winning margin, with a momentous 4-nil drubbing of reigning double winner Melbourne Victory at Etihad Stadium, to help close the gap on what was threatening to be a runaway top two.
The Mariners biggest win prior to tonight was a 4-nil thumping of Perth Glory in round eight of season one, on 16 October 2005.
“Forget finals, if you just think about A-League games, we-ve had a few good ones, but 4-nil, away from home, against the champions, it was a solid performance.
“We-ve not been conceding goals, we had to make three changes, and the three strikers scored for us tonight.
“We-ve said all along there are goals in them, and tonight we got them.
“From the midfield, to the defence, to the strikers, everybody did their job tonight, so that was very pleasing, with some good football played in there as well,” said Mariners Football Manager Lawrie McKinna.
Returning to the scene of arguably their greatest triumph so far this campaign, the Mariners were high on confidence despite being low on troop numbers, with Matthew Crowell suspended, Michael McGlinchey failing a late fitness test on his ankle, and Chris Doig succumbing to a quad strain in the final training session of the week.
Those absences gave Nicky Travis a return to the starting eleven on the right wing, Matthew Lewis his maiden Hyundai A-League start on the left, and meant Ahmad Elrich had to fly in early this morning to take his place on the bench.
The Yellow and Navy appeared up against it in the early exchanges, Carlos Hernandez threatening with an early free kick before firing wide eight minutes in.
After surviving an early assault, the Mariners began to find their stride, winning back-to-back corners ten minutes in, before taking the lead on 15 minutes.
Nicky Travis picked up a loose ball 30 yards out and went on a mazy run, before launching a stinging strike at Glen Moss, the New Zealand international ‘keeper only able to parry the effort away, into the path of Adam Kwasnik, who finished with a spectacular leaping volley.
Hernandez was looking lively for the hosts, a speculative 20 yard strike looping just wide, while Alex Wilkinson had to make an important challenge after Archie Thompson weaved his way into the area.
Nicky Travis was similarly impressive in shutting out a Matthew Kemp run as the home side pressed for an equaliser, while Danny Vukovic pulled off a spectacular save to deny Thompson from a free kick, and maintain the one goal buffer.
Matthew Lewis very nearly marked his first start with a goal, when, immediately after the restart the teenager launched a fierce volley from the edge of the area, only to see Moss tip the shot over the bar.
The 19-year-old had an even better chance to open his Hyundai A-League account moments later, when Hutchinson played a long ball through for Bojic, who layed off for Lewis, however his first time effort sailed marginally over the bar.
“The boys were winding him up over the last few days and he probably wouldn-t have slept much last night, but I thought he had a great starting debut, and he could have been a hero and got two goals to start the second half,” said McKinna.
Thai international Sutee Suksomit found himself free on the edge of the six yard box after the ball trickled across goal, but opted to take a touch, allowing Vukovic to spring into action and block his second up effort.
Nicky Travis shot over on 64 minutes and the Mariners were in complete control, bossing the Victory all over the park, and it was only a matter of time before the dominance was rewarded.
Nik Mrdja sent a low drive wide on 71 minutes, and the Mariners doubled their advantage three minutes later, when a Travis corner found Matt Simon on the back post, his header finding the back of the net via Roddy Vargas- shoulder.
Vukovic was proving solid at the back, leaping full length to his left to push a Thompson drive around the post, and soon after, the Mariners made it three.
Pedj Bojic took off on a mazy run down the left and put a ball through for Dean Heffernan, who calmly slotted home through Moss- legs.
But it wasn-t over yet, John Hutchinson whipped a corner in to the near post, and Andrew Clark played the ball on for Nik Mrdja, who tapped home to finish the rout, and secure the equal greatest victory in the club-s history.
“We-re always thought of as a club that works hard with a work ethic, but I think those who saw the game saw there were some spells through there that there was some great football.
“We played good football, we-re very competitive, and we were up for the game.
“I thought there might have been (another) goal coming at the end as well because Melbourne were coming forward and we kept winning the ball and going forward.
“With a wee bit of luck we might have got another one,” said McKinna.
And the Mariners mentor has a warning for anyone doubting his side-s title credentials.
“I believe, and the coaching staff believe that we have a really good squad. I just think sometimes the players don-t believe how good they are.
“I just hope after a performance like that we do believe in ourselves, and believe in each other, they can get better, said McKinna.
The Mariners- next home match of the Hyundai A-League 2009/10 season will be against Perth Glory on Friday, 27 November. Kick-off is at 8:00pm. Tickets are available online here or by phoning 132 849.
Mariners Memberships for the Hyundai A-League 2009/10 season are now on sale by clicking here
Central Coast Mariners 20. Danny VUKOVIC (gk), 4. Pedj BOJIC, 5. Brad PORTER, 7. John HUTCHINSON, 8. Dean HEFFERNAN, 12. Matthew LEWIS (25. Ahmad ELRICH 64-), 16. Nigel BOOGAARD, 18. Alex WILKINSON (c), 19. Matt SIMON (15. Andrew CLARK 81-), 22. Nicky TRAVIS, 23. Adam KWASNIK (9. Nik MRDJA 60-).
Unused Subs 1. Andrew REDMAYNE (gk).
Yellow Cards Boogaard 46-, Travis 88′
Red Cards None
Goals Kwasnik 16-, Vargas 76′, Heffernan 80-, Mrdja 84-
Melbourne Victory 20. Glen MOSS (gk), 2. Kevin MUSCAT (c), 3. Mate DUGANDZIC (13. Nathan ELASI 63-), 6. Leigh BROXHAM (5. Surat SUKHA 46-), 7. Matthew KEMP, 8. Grant BREBNER, 10. Archie THOMPSON, 12. Rodrigo VARGAS, 16. Carlos HERNANDEZ, 23. Adrian LEIJER, 27. Sutee SUKSOMIT (11. Ney FABIANO 57-).
Unused Subs 1. Mitchell LANGERAK (gk)
Yellow Cards Brebner 45+3′
Red Cards None
Referee Strebre DELOVSKI