Honours even in Melbourne deluge

The Central Coast Mariners have moved a step closer to securing second spot following an entertaining 1-all draw with Melbourne Heart in extreme conditions at AAMI Park this evening.

The Central Coast Mariners have moved a step closer to securing second spot following an entertaining 1-all draw with Melbourne Heart in extreme conditions at AAMI Park this evening.

Kick-off was delayed by an hour and a quarter after a massive amount of rain swamped AAMI Park in the hours before the scheduled start, with real fears of a postponement, and indeed, the full time whistle came well after 11:00pm.

Credit to the work of ground staff and the patience of the teams, officials and supporters, the match was ultimately given the go ahead by referee Strebre Delovski.

“It wasn-t an easy surface to play on, it was wet and it was fast and I think we did well in the end, I-m happy with a point,” said Mariners Head Coach Graham Arnold.

“We were very keen to play the game tonight because we have a game on Wednesday night away to the Gold Coast so we-re happy that the game was played.

“Mentally it was difficult for the players, they had to warm up three or four times, they kept getting the message that they were going to inspect the pitch at ten past eight, half past eight and ten to nine so they had to be ready to go out on three different occasions which I feel probably had an impact on players.

It-s not very often the players finish a game at 11 o-clock at night, but we-re glad it is out of the way.”

Rain continued to fall, albeit lighter than previously, as the teams kicked-off, and conditions were tough, the slippery surface and ball almost giving the Mariners first blood inside six minutes, as Michael McGlinchey fired a long range shot at Clint Bolton, who fumbled but managed to recover the ball just millimetres from crossing the line to save his blushes.

The Yellow and Navy seemed to revel in the wet early on, Patricio Perez laying-off to Josh Rose who forced Simon Colosimo into a smart block after wonderful ball movement through midfield in the lead up.

Daniel McBreen may have thought he had indeed opened the scoring ten minutes in when he sent a bullet header from the edge of the box just wide of the near post after a good delivery from Pedj Bojic.

Soon after Matt Simon was denied by Colosimo, who once again saved the day at the last minute with a strong tackle, but the heavy challenge would eventually signal an early night for Simon who came off second best in the collision which produced a resounding crack around AAMI Park.

It-s believed Simon has suffered damage to his right knee, the full extent of which likely to be clearer following scans on Monday.

“Probably (out for) a couple of weeks, but the positive with Simmo is that he he-s a very fit boy and he recovers from injuries very quickly so we-ll keep our fingers crossed. He-ll have a lot of treatment this week and hopefully recover quickly,” said Arnold.

Mathew Ryan had to be alert on a couple of occasions, first doing well to parry a dangerous Gerald Sibon free kick past the post before a smart save to block a point blank header.

Alex Terra had arguably the hosts best chance of the opening half but fired wide with the goal seemingly at his mercy, while Alex Wilkinson and Patrick Zwaanswijk both made important blocks as the Heart looked to move ahead.

Bolton had to be on his toes to keep a Perez free kick at bay as the clock wound down, and the Mariners enjoyed three late corners, one of which in first half additional time somehow missing everyone as it was floated into the six yard area by Oliver Bozanic.

The rain continued to tumble throughout the half time break and into the opening exchanges of the second stanza, ultimately conspiring against the Yellow and Navy, and assisting the hosts to the opening goal.

The Heart won a free-kick deep in their own half which Matt Thompson duly pumped long, and young ‘keeper Ryan could only watch on in horror as the ball bounced and skidded on the greasy surface over his head and into the back of the net.

Heads weren-t down for long though as a swift reply restored parity, Pedj Bojic released Josh Rose down the left, and Daniel McBreen scrambled home his cross at the near post.

Gerald Sibon and Perez were off target at either end as both sides went searching for a second goal, while McBreen was only milliseconds away from beating Bolton to a through ball just shy of the hour mark.

Perez fired in a dangerous free kick from the left corner that was cleared only to Adam Kwasnik on the edge of the area, but his shot was deflected wide with Bolton out of the equation.

Bozanic had a shot blocked and Zwaanswijk saw the impressive Behich clear off the line as the Mariners kept attacking, but Melbourne was dangerous on the counter, as Sibon and Wayne Srhoj saw opportunities come and go.

Despite his earlier blip, Ryan continued to impress, pulling off a wonderful save to deny Srhoj late on, and McBreen agonisingly watched Behich again save the day for the hosts by clearing off the line to ensure the points would be deservedly shared in a thoroughly enthralling contest punctuated by the extreme weather conditions.

“I thought we were the better side, I thought we had the better chances and we looked the more likely team to score. I was just a little bit disappointed that in the first half in transition when we won the ball we didn-t keep the ball for one or two passes after which is what we have been doing very well of late,” Arnold said.

“I am very proud of our boys. Brisbane has had a great year, and it has taken a team who has lost one game and gone 22 unbeaten to beat us. Sydney FC last year after 27 games won the league with 48 points, after 27 games we have 51, so it has taken a red hot Brisbane team to beat us.

“I-m extremely proud of the boys, we have got two games to go and we will get on with it and try to seal second spot. One point tonight really helps a lot.”

The Central Coast Mariners next match of the Hyundai A-League 2010/11 season will be against Gold Coast United this Wednesday, 9 February at Skilled Park, Robina. Kick-off is at 8:00pm QST (9:00pm AEDT).

Match Details

Melbourne Heart 1 (Thompson 49-)
Central Coast Mariners 1 (McBreen 50-)

Melbourne Heart: 1 Clint BOLTON (gk), 2. Michael MARRONE, 4. Simon COLOSIMO (c), 6. Matt THOMPSON, 7. Rutger WORM (14. Kamal IBRAHIM 63-), 9. Gerald SIBON, 10. Wayne SHROJ (22. Nick KALMAR 87-), 11. Alex TERRA, 15. John ALOISI, 16. Aziz BEHICH, 20. Josip SKOKO.

Subs not Used: 12. Peter ZOIS (gk), 3. Brendan HAMILL.

Yellow Cards: Nil
Red Cards: Nil

Central Coast Mariners: 20. Mathew RYAN (gk), 2. Daniel McBREEN, 3. Joshua ROSE, 4. Pedj BOJIC, 6. Patrick ZWAANSWIJK, 8. Rostyn GRIFFITHS, 10. Patricio PEREZ (7. John HUTCHINSON 80-), 11. Oliver BOZANIC, 14. Michael McGLINCHEY (22. Mustafa AMINI 90+1-), 18. Alex WILKINSON (c), 19. Matt SIMON (23. Adam KWASNIK 35-).

Subs not Used: 30. Paul HENDERSON (gk).

Yellow Cards: Bozanic 55-, Amini 90+2-
Red Cards: Nil

Referee: Strebre DELOVSKI
Crowd: 3,667 @ AAMI Park, Melbourne.