Can’t beat that hoodoo – Mariners baked by Roar

The Central Coast Mariners’ hopes of qualifying for a third Hyundai A-League Grand Final have been dealt a blow at Bluetongue Stadium this evening, with the hosts trumped 2-0 by a sizzling Queensland Roar side in the Minor Semi Final – 1st Leg.

The Central Coast Mariners- hopes of qualifying for a third Hyundai A-League Grand Final have been dealt a blow at Bluetongue Stadium this evening, with the hosts trumped 2-0 by a sizzling Queensland Roar side in the Minor Semi Final – 1st Leg.

Goals either side of half time from Mitch Nichols and Sergio Van Dijk, the latter from the penalty spot, secured the visitors a precious two-goal triumph that has tasked the yellow and navy with a formidable assignment at Suncorp Stadium next Friday.

Leading into the match, much was made of the Mariners- winless record against the Roar at their Bluetongue Stadium home and for a fair slice of this fixture, the home side looked capable of shaking their now famous hoodoo.

However, with two well-taken strikes before and after the break, the Roar added credence to their Bluetongue Stadium monopoly, consigned the Mariners to their fourth straight defeat and, furthermore, kept the Central Coast scoreless for a third successive game.

At the least, the Mariners must now defeat the Roar by a two-goal margin at Suncorp Stadium on Friday in order to have any chance of extending their involvement in the Hyundai A-League 2008/09 season.

“It was a bad night at the office, I thought we started off well and put them under a lot of pressure in the first half,” said Mariners Football Manager Lawrie McKinna after the match.

“We felt as though we were very, very comfortable in the first half and we went in 1-0 down against the run of play and I-m sure we had a lot more chances.

“Coming out for the second half, we were quite confident that we could get back in the game, we gave away a penalty, and there-s no complaints, it was a penalty – credit to Queensland, they-ve come away from home, scored two good goals and they-re in the box seat.”

The Mariners started the match in electric fashion and largely oozed the confidence and swagger that has been such a feature of their play throughout most of season four.

With Adrian Caceres looking in fine touch and Matthew Osman reveling in a new defensive midfield role, the Mariners looked most likely to open the scoring until conceding the match opener – Dylan Macallister and Matt Simon looming particularly large up front.

Osman-s rasping 25-metre drive midway through the half was so nearly a candidate for goal of the year, only for Nichols to sink the spirit of a lively Mariners side on 27 minutes.

Nichols was on hand to nod home Matt McKay-s corner and hand the visitors a lead that they barely deserved, but one they would hang onto with distinction until the final whistle.

Van Dijk-s penalty early in the second half as a result of a Paul O-Grady foul doubled the Roar-s advantage and despite being reduced to ten men with 15 minutes to play following Danny Tiatto-s expulsion, the Mariners threatened their opponent-s goal all too rarely.

O-Grady came closest with a header from a John Hutchinson free kick that was tipped over the bar by Reddy, while substitute Nik Mrdja-s headed effort from close range flew only inches above goal.

Without a strike to show for their efforts and with at least two goals now required away from home, the challenge facing the Mariners at Suncorp Stadium is a tough one – but one that the yellow and navy will confront knowing that they overturned an identical margin in last season-s Major Semi Final series against the Newcastle Jets.

“We can still qualify, but on our second half performance tonight, no we can-t,” said McKinna.

“We need to go up to Suncorp Stadium and we need to score first, if we score first anything can happen, as we proved against Newcastle last year.

“But we can-t afford to go up there and start charging at them, because if we cop a goal we-ll be gone, we have to be patient and go at them and get that belief back in the team.”

The Mariners- bid for a berth in the Hyundai A-League Preliminary Final will continue at Suncorp Stadium on Friday, 13 February, when they again take on the Queensland Roar in the Minor Semi Final – 2nd Leg. Kick off is at 8.30pm AEDT.

The Mariners will next be at Bluetongue Stadium for the opening match of their maiden Asian adventure – an AFC Champions League 2009 clash against Korean FA Cup winners Pohang Steelers on Wednesday, 11 March.

Ticketing information for Mariners Members and supporters will be made available in the coming weeks.

Match Details

Central Coast Mariners 20. Danny Vukovic (gk), 2. Andre Gumprecht (15. Andrew Clark 67-), 4. Pedj Bojic, 5. Bradley Porter, 7. John Hutchinson, 10. Adrian Caceres (9. Nik Mrdja 62-), 11. Dylan Macallister, 13. Paul O-Grady, 17. Matthew Osman, 18. Alex Wilkinson, 19. Matt Simon (22. Sasho Petrovski 70-)

Unused Subs 16. Nigel Boogaard, 30. Andrew Redmayne (gk)

Yellow Cards None
Red Cards None
Goals None

Queensland Roar 1. Liam Reddy (gk), 2. Andrew Packer, 4. Craig Moore, 5. Josh McCloughan (16. Hyuk-Su Seo 45-), 7. Michael Zullo, 8. Massimo Murdocca, 9. Sergio Van Dijk, 12. Tahj Minniecon (19. Isaka Cernak 90-), 15. Matthew McKay, 17. Mitch Nichols (10. Charlie Miller 74-), 18. Danny Tiatto

Unused Subs 20. Griffin McMaster (gk), 21. Tommy Oar

Yellow Cards Tiatto 34-, 75-, Packer 56-, Zullo 58-
Red Cards Tiatto 75-
Goals Nichols 27-, Van Dijk 54-P

Referee Ben Williams
Crowd 9,514