Honours even in Gold Coast trial

A 91st minute equaliser has denied the Central Coast Mariners what would have been a deserved victory over Hyundai A-League newcomer Gold Coast United, in a pre-season trial at Skilled Park.

A 91st minute equaliser has denied the Central Coast Mariners what would have been a deserved victory over Hyundai A-League newcomer Gold Coast United, in a pre-season trial at Skilled Park.

The Mariners could have gone ahead inside the first minute, when John Hutchinson played a one-two with Nigel Boogaard to send the latter into the box, Boogaard firing wide under pressure from Terrigal junior and now Gold Coast custodian Jess Vanstratten.

The yellow and navy continued to apply pressure, Adam Kwasnik played a ball in from the left, but trialist Michael McGlinchey was unable to connect with his header.

The hosts first chance came after 10 minutes as Shane Smeltz found himself free in the right channel, forcing Danny Vukovic into action, the Mariners ‘keeper making an impressive diving save to turn the Kiwi international-s effort around the post.

Robson fired over the bar as the Gold Coast got into the game, while Kwasnik was in the action again, having a shot blocked by Michael Thwaite after a mazy run into the area.

The Gold Coast was awarded a free kick in a dangerous position on 21 minutes, Jason Culina firing wide from 20 yards.

As the half wore on, Kwasnik headed wide after a good ball in from Brad Porter, while a ball in from the right from Hutchinson saw Matt Simon slide a shot wide.

Hutchinson and Simon both also had long distance efforts miss the target, Shane Smeltz and Zenon Caravella having similar luck as the deadlock remained unbroken.

Things changed quickly upon the resumption though, Thwaite received his marching orders after being adjudged to be the last man when he pulled back Dylan Macallister, allowing Pedj Bojic to step up 25 yards out.

And, as he-s done twice already this season, the former Northampton Town midfielder fired a stunning curling effort into the top left corner, giving Vanstratten no chance, to send the visitors 1-0 up.

Four minutes later the Mariners lead was doubled, Brad Porter took the ball down the right flank and found Macallister on the near post, his backheel allowing Kwasnik to tap in unchallenged.

And it could have been three soon after if not for a point blank Vanstratten save to deny Hutchinson, after the Maltese international was set up by Adrian Caceres.

The Gold Coast got itself back in the contest though, albeit fortunately, when Ivorian midfielder Adama Traore-s shot took a deflection off Alex Wilkinson, a diving Vukovic unable to keep it out after seemingly having the initial shot covered.

Hutchinson had the chance to finish things off after again being put through by Caceres, but under pressure from Vanstratten fired wide.

In a frantic final few minutes United stole a late equaliser, Jason Culina sending a free kick from the right edge of the area into Shane Smeltz, who headed toward the far post, leaving Vukovic no chance, and ensuring honours would finish even.

The Mariners- pre-season continues next Saturday when they take on Wellington Phoenix at Apex Oval, Dubbo, Kick-off is at 6:00pm.

Reserved Grandstand tickets are $20 (no concession) and are available at Dubbo RSL Club. General Admission is available at the gate, adults are $10 and Child/Concession $5.

Mariners Memberships for the Hyundai A-League 2009/10 season are available online by clicking here or by phoning 1300 767 442.

Match Details

Central Coast Mariners 20. Danny Vukovic (gk), 4. Pedj Bojic (21. Ahmad Elrich 73-), 5. Brad Porter, 7. John Hutchinson, 8. Dean Heffernan, 16. Nigel Boogaard, 17. Chris Doig, 18. Alex Wilkinson (c), 19. Matt Simon (11. Dylan Macallister 46-), 23. Adam Kwasnik (10. Adrian Caceres 62-), 25. Michael McGlinchey.

Unused Subs 1. Matthew Ryan (gk).

Yellow Cards Brad Porter 86-
Red Cards None
Goals Pedj Bojic 48-, Adam Kwasnik 53-

Gold Coast United 1. Jess Vanstratten, 2. Steve Pantelidis, 3. Michael Thwaite, 5. Robson (16. Kristian Rees 46-), 7. Zenon Caravella (24. Steve Lustica 83-), 9. Shane Smeltz, 10. Jason Culina, 13. Bas Van Den Brink, 19. Andrew Barisic (26. Mitch Bevan 60-), 22. Adama Traore, 23. Steve Fitzsimmons.

Unused Subs 20. Scott Higgins (gk).

Yellow Cards Steve Pantelidis 28-, Michael Thwaite 35-, Bas Van Den Brink 80-
Red Cards Michael Thwaite 48-
Goals Adama Traore 81-, Shane Smeltz 90+1-

Referee Matthew Gillett
Crowd Approx 1,000