Gold Coast edge out gallant Mariners

There would be no fairytale return to Bluetongue Stadium for the Central Coast Mariners in their Week 15 Hyundai A-League encounter, as two goals in a four-minute period in the second half saw Gold Coast United come away with a 3-2 victory.

There would be no fairytale return to Bluetongue Stadium for the Central Coast Mariners in their Week 15 Hyundai A-League encounter, as two goals in a four-minute period in the second half saw Gold Coast United come away with a 3-2 victory.

Their unbeaten start to the campaign at home may have been ended, but there was enough positive signs to suggest the Mariners will be a force as they head into the second part of the season.

Head Coach Graham Arnold was brutally honest when asked about the performance of his team today.

“This isn-t the first time I-ve said this but we need to be more ruthless in front of goal. In the past we have gotten away with it, and today we didn-t. It could have been three or four nil at halftime, and then just before halftime we copped that goal from a set piece. It took the sting out of us and I knew that we would fatigue a bit in the second half.

“We-re creating chances – that-s the main thing. We-ve just got to keep on going. I thought we played well in the first half.”

“We would-ve loved to have got the win with the great crowd we had today. It-s fantastic that crowd turned up and I-m sure they-ll be back.

“They would-ve been happy with the way we played in the first half. They-ve come to a match and seen five goals. While we weren-t in the winners circle today, they-ve seen an entertaining game,” Arnold said.

With both teams in a rich vein of form at the moment it was reasonable to expect an attacking game of football. The visitors duly obliged with Jason Culina firing off a warning shot just two minutes into the match. Mariners- custodian Mathew Ryan had the shot well and truly covered, but the youngster clearly wasn-t impressed with the ease of which Culina skipped through the defence.

It wasn-t long before the Mariners fired their own first-shot of the afternoon with striker Daniel McBreen pushing his header just wide of the post. Despite being denied that time, McBreen proved he was in a menacing mood ghosting into the box, and just failing to beat Gold Coast defender Kristian Rees to the ball.

With injuries to both Brad Porter and Pedj Bojic, skipper Alex Wilkinson was assigned the task of playing right back. Clearly the experienced defender was relishing the chance to press forward and become involved in attacking movements. He provided a gem of a pass to Matt Simon in the 13th minute that should-ve seen the marksman net the opening goal of the match. Unfortunately for Simon the ball hit his knee and drifted agonizingly wide of the post.

Youth is an omnipresent theme around the Central Coast Mariners at the moment, and it was the youngest player on the park Mustafa Amini who was the next to try his luck. The talented midfielder who is looking more composed with every outing struck a thunderbolt that jarred the hands of Gold Coast-s ‘keeper Glen Moss. It was the start of a period of dominance for the Mariners who had several fine chances to open their account for the afternoon.

Michael McGlinchey, himself in a golden run of form forced a strong save from Moss on the half-hour mark. Amini and Chris Doig both had chances but it was to be another five minutes before the Mariners finally broke down the Gold Coast defence.

Oliver Bozanic did exceptionally well under pressure to thread a ball through the heart of the Gold Coast backline to release Josh Rose. Rose continued the movement and unselfishly crossed the ball to Matt Simon when he could have easily had a crack himself. Simon had to stretch every sinew of his body to slide the ball into the back of the net, which he ultimately did with aplomb.

The lead was to be short-lived however. In the final seconds of regular time in the first half the Mariners failed to show enough urgency to clear the ball from a corner. Gold Coast defender Dino Djublic showed no such hesitation blasting the ball home to bring the visitors back on level terms. McBreen had one final chance with the last kick of the half but unfortunately for the striker the ball rolled just past the far post.

The Mariners faithful were more than happy to cheer on their team, and during the break from the main entertainment gave the 2010 development program graduates a rousing reception as they did a lap of Bluetongue Stadium.

Tahj Minniecon should have scored the Gold Coast-s second four minutes into the second half, but much to the Mariners relief he blasted over the top with the goal at his mercy. The Mariners had two strong chances to regain the lead first from McGlinchey that was well-saved by Moss, before a stunning cross from Rostyn Griffiths caused confusion in the box that almost resulted in a second goal.

After a hectic travelling schedule that has seen the Mariners rack up the kilometers, it was understandable that the players would start to tire in the closing stages of the match. Graham Arnold has shown an astute knack for substitutes this season and he threw in Maltese international John Hutchinson and young-gun Matthew Lewis in a double change in the 68th minute. But not even Arnold could-ve foreseen the amazing period that was about to develop.

A lack of communication at the back saw Steve Pantelidis pounce for his first Hyundai A-League goal in the 69th minute. The Gold Coast barely had time to celebrate before a Patrick Zwaanswijk long-ball found Adam Kwasnik who gleefully pounced on a fumble from Moss to draw the Mariners level at 2-all.
Amazingly that wasn-t the end of the scoring spree when Andrew Barisic capitalized on a rare error from Mariners stalwart Wilkinson to give the visitors a lead they would never relinquish.

Barisic who had the freshest legs on the field tried single-handedly to put the result beyond doubt, but was thwarted by a brilliant save from Ryan.

To their credit the Mariners never stopped pushing for an equalizer to keep their unbeaten home record intact. However the physical effects of their third game in a week ultimately meant they ran out of legs. Their best chance fell to Griffiths in the dying stages who headed over.

Arnold believes the perfect medicine for his charges is to play again, and to that end they don-t have long to wait.

“The good thing about football, and the A-League in general is that it-s a three-day turnaround. Newcastle (on Wednesday) up there is going to be a great game. It-s a local derby, there-s lots of passion and lots of energy, so we-re looking forward to that.”

Match Details

Central Coast Mariners 2 (Simon 42-, Kwasnik 71-)
Gold Coast United 3 (Djulbic 45-, Pantelidis 69-, Barisic 73-)

Central Coast Mariners: 20. Mathew RYAN (gk), 2 Daniel MCBREEN (7. John HUTCHINSON 68-), 3. Joshua ROSE, 6. Patrick ZWANNSWIJK, 8. Rostyn GRIFFITHS, 11. Oliver BOZANIC (12. Matthew LEWIS 68-), 14. Michael MCGLINCHEY, 17. Chris DOIG, 18. Alex WILKINSON (c), 19. Matt SIMON, 22. Mustafa AMINI (23. Adam KWASNIK 54-).

Subs not Used: 30. Paul HENDERSON (gk)
Yellow Cards: Lewis 81-
Red Cards: None

Gold Coast United: 1. Glen MOSS (gk), 2. Steve PANTELIDIS, 6. Dino DJULBIC, 7. Zenon CARAVELLA, 8. ANDERSON, 10. Jason CULINA (c) (24. John CURTIS 90+2-), 13. Sebastiaan VAN DEN BRINK, 15. Tahj MINNIECON (5. ROBSON 65-), 16. Kristian REES, 22. Adama TRAORE 23. Steven FITZSIMMONS (19. Andrew BARISIC 71-).

Subs not Used: 20. Scott HIGGINS (gk).

Yellow Cards: Djulbic 65-, Pantelidis 90+3-
Red Cards: None

Referee: Matthew GILLETT
Crowd: 9,732 at Bluetongue Stadium, Gosford.

The Central Coast Mariners continue their 2010/11 campaign away to Newcastle Jets next Wednesday 24, November at EnergyAustralia Stadium, Newcastle. Kick-off is at 7:00pm.