Frustrated Mariners take a point

The Central Coast Mariners have picked up another point as they try to stay in touch with the top six, but once again would have felt they could have snatched all three, following a 1-all draw with Adelaide United at Hindmarsh Stadium.

The Central Coast Mariners have picked up another point as they try to stay in touch with the top six, but once again would have felt they could have snatched all three, following a 1-all draw with Adelaide United at Hindmarsh Stadium.

Nik Mrdja-s 39th minute penalty was cancelled out by Travis Dodd three minutes later, ensuring the make up of the bottom of the ladder remains unchanged.

“On another day, like over the last six weeks, we could have won the game,” said Mariners Football Manager Lawrie McKinna.

“We got a penalty, scored seven minutes before half time but the disappointing thing for us is we lost the ball under not a lot of pressure and credit to Adelaide, they-ve turned it around and got a goal out of it, but it was poor execution by us.”

The Mariners have made a habit of scoring early this season and Pedj Bojic very nearly continued that trend just 43 seconds in, when he latched on to a good ball in from the right by Brad Porter, but his shot was inadvertently blocked by Matt Simon.

Travis Dodd picked up a loose ball on the edge of the area on six minutes but sent his effort wide, while Nik Mrdja thought he-d put the visitors ahead, when Simon flicked a long ball on to his feet, and his shot got a slight deflection off Mark Rudan, but Eugene Galekovic watched on in relief as the ball trickled agonizingly past the far post.

Simon headed the resultant corner wide, and his opposite number Lloyd Owusu was also off target with his head after a Cassio corner.

Adelaide again rode their luck on 19 minutes when, after being fouled on the edge of the area Mrdja sent a fierce drive cannoning off the wall and into the path of Dean Heffernan, whose close range first time shot was somehow kept out by Galekovic-s boot.

There was goalmouth action aplenty, and Danny Vukovic was called upon to make a fine save when Cassio tried his luck from distance, but Gaelkovic-s understudy at the recent AFC Asian Cup qualifier against Kuwait proved he was up to the task with a fantastic diving save.

The Mariners kept pressing and on 37 minutes their toil was rewarded, when Cassio brought down Pedj Bojic in the area, allowing Mrdja to step up to the penalty spot and send his powerful shot into the top right corner.

Mark Rudan had a shot cleared off the line after Vukovic fumbled Lucas Pantelis- initial effort but it wasn-t long before the Reds did have an equaliser, as Matthew Leckie went on a strong run and linked up with Dodd, who did well to finish from a tight angle.

Simon had a chance to add to the Mariners account on the stroke of half time, but his 20-yard shot was off target.

Vukovic very nearly suffered an unwanted case of Déjà vu early in the second half, when he had to tip a dangerous Cassio free kick over the bar, after the diminutive Brazillian scored in almost identical fashion the last time the two sides played here at Hindmarsh.

Dodd and Pantelis both had chances as Adelaide dominated the opening exchanges of the second half, but the Yellow and Navy slowly clawed their way back in, Mrdja going close after doing well to get in front of his man and get his head to a Dean Heffernan cross on the hour.

Galekovic was proving to be a major stumbling block in the Mariners quest for their first win since late November, doing brilliantly to get a hand on a curling Porter shot after good lead up play by Mrdja and Hutchinson.

And the Qantas Socceroos custodian again denied Porter soon after when he got down low to keep a close range shot out at the near post.

Bojic sent a fierce free kick from 25-yards toward Galekovic and time was slowly starting to turn against McKinna-s men as they chased the precious three points.

Mrdja had a final chance to seal it for the visitors but couldn-t get the ball to John Hutchinson who had found space on the edge of the area, and so, the Central Coast would have to wait another week to try to snap what is now a seven match run without a win.

“When we came back out at the start of the second half Adelaide came at us with everything but as the game went on I felt as though we were getting more clear cut chances.

“I think the 10-thousand people who were there tonight would have been on the edge of their seats because any team could have won it,” said McKinna.

And McKinna insists there-s a strong belief in the squad, that the finals series is by no means beyond the Yellow and Navy.

“There are probably some spots up for grabs. We-ve got 12 points to go for, and our boys were disappointed after the game but there was a thought that we came down here, deserved to win and hung in there, and it gives us something to play for over the next four weeks. We believe we can go and get 12 points.

“We feel as though we-ve turned a corner. Coming to Adelaide, it doesn-t matter how they are doing, it a hard place to come to get results.

The Mariners return to their Bluetongue Stadium home next Friday to face Gold Coast United, and McKinna is hoping for a big crowd to spur the Mariners on.

“We had a good little traveling support, the boys were great again. Hopefully we get a big turn out next week and hopefully we can put in a solid 90 minutes like we did tonight. We-ll be going home to hopefully give the supporters something to cheer about because we-ve only won one game at Bluetongue and our supporters deserve a (home) win and we-ll be looking to give it to them next week.”

The Mariners- next home match of the Hyundai A-League 2009/10 season will be against Gold Coast United on Friday, 22 January. Kick-off is at 8:00pm. Tickets are available online here or by phoning 132 849.

Match Details

Central Coast Mariners 20. Danny VUKOVIC (GK), 4. Pedj BOJIC, 5. Brad PORTER, 7. John HUTCHINSON, 8. Dean HEFFERNAN, 9. Nik MRDJA, 15. Andrew CLARK (14. Michael McGLINCHEY 66-), 16. Nigel BOOGAARD, 17. Chris DOIG, 18. Alex WILKINSON (C), 19. Matt SIMON (23. Adam KWASNIK 81-).

Unused Subs 1. Andrew REDMAYNE (GK), 2. Matthew CROWELL.

Yellow Cards Simon 64-, Heffernan 78-
Red Cards None
Goals Mrdja 39-(pen)

Adelaide United 1. Eugene GALEKOVIC (GK), 4. Iain FYFE, 5. Daniel MULLEN, 6. CASSIO, 7. Lucas PANTELIS, 11. Lloyd OWUSU (9. CRISTIANO 79-), 13. Travis DODD (C) (16. Inseob SHIN 56-), 17. Michael MARRONE, 18. Fabian BARBIERO (10. Adam HUGHES 63-), 19. Matthew LECKIE, 21. Mark RUDAN.

Unused Subs 20. Mark BIRIGHITTI (GK).

Yellow Cards Hughes 65-
Red Cards None
Goals Dodd 42-

Referee Chris BEATH
Crowd 10,156