Kiwi McGlinchey inflicts pain on hometown club

A brilliant first half strike to New Zealand international Michael McGlinchey has helped the Central Coast Mariners to a vital 1-nil win over the Wellington Phoenix at Bluetongue Stadium, keeping pressure on Adelaide United in second spot, and setting up a blockbuster with Hyundai A-League leader Brisbane Roar back at Bluetongue on Wednesday.

A brilliant first half strike to New Zealand international Michael McGlinchey has helped the Central Coast Mariners to a vital 1-nil win over the Wellington Phoenix at Bluetongue Stadium, keeping pressure on Adelaide United in second spot, and setting up a blockbuster with Hyundai A-League leader Brisbane Roar back at Bluetongue on Wednesday.

After the frustration of their New Year Eve meeting with the Melbourne Victory, the Mariners responded in the best possible way to further consolidate third spot on the ladder. The match was highlighted by McGlinchey-s first goal of the campaign and young custodian Mathew Ryan netting his 10th clean sheet for the club, an outstanding feat for a rookie goalkeeper.

It was a perfect way for the Mariners to begin 2011, and head coach Graham Arnold was pleased that his side was able to take the points after a slow start, in what were energy-sapping conditions for both sides.

“If we want to take our game to the next level we need to start better than we did tonight,” said Arnold.

“After those first six minutes I thought there was only one team in it scoring goals. We were calm throughout the match, and handled the situation pretty well.

“Don-t underestimate the heat factor with 5-oclock kick-offs, they certainly aren-t easy.”

Keen to dispel the popular line that they don-t travel well, the Phoenix took less than a minute to take the game to the Mariners. A familiar face, Dylan Macallister was the beneficiary of an outstanding cross. An alert Ryan pulled off a smart save getting his body behind the ball, before Patrick Zwaanswijk made sure that the ball wouldn-t be tapped home by the lurking Wellington players.

The visitors would control possession for the opening five minutes and would get two more strong chances to open their account for the afternoon. First was a header to Ben Sigmund, and the second was off the boot of impressive youngster Marco Rojas.

After weathering the storm, the Mariners went on their own territorial odyssey keeping possession for a significant period of time as they fired their opening shots for the afternoon. Josh Rose and Patricio Perez tried their luck, but neither player could quite get the accuracy they were searching for.

Rojas was causing trouble for the Mariners defence, showing a clean pair of heels to cut inside the defenders, and made several threatening runs that his teammates were unable to capitalize on.

The first real scoring chance of the match fell to McGlinchey who struck a drive from about thirty yards out that forced former Mariners fans-favourite Danny Vukovic into a smart save.

It was a strange opener with both sides having periods of complete dominance, at least in terms of possession but neither able to take full advantage. The visitors would rue the opening five minutes when they had three strong chances, and it appeared that the Mariners would experience the same frustration.

Striker Daniel McBreen – making his first start since November 21 – had the chance to open the scoring twice in the space of a minute but couldn-t quite find a way through.

With the end-to-end tempo of the match it was only a matter of time before something gave. Several times earlier in the match, the Phoenix showed hesitation when Perez was in possession. The Argentine relished the extra time and space he was being given, and made them pay with interest in the 41st minute.

His gem of a pass found Rose who cut the ball back across the Wellington backline and found McGlinchey. The Kiwi international hit it first time and drove the ball into the back of the net for his first goal of the season, and his second in the Yellow and Navy. It was a just reward for one of the most consistent players this season, who looked threatening every time he touched the ball.

If the visitors started the game stronger, it was the hosts who would reverse the trend in the second half. Zwaasnswijk has one of the most reliable heads in the league, and he went agonizingly close to doubling the lead for the Mariners. A sensational cross from McBreen saw the flying Dutchman leap above the pack only to be thwarted by the crossbar.

Zwaanswijk-s chance was the first of three chance clear-cut chances the Mariners manufactured in the opening exchanges of the second half.

Josh Rose was next to try his luck, and with goal scoring form against the Phoenix behind him, he understandably fancied his chances. The shot was only just wide after some strong lead up play from Matt Simon.

Searching for the defining blow against a tiring Wellington side Perez tried a shot from distance that forced Vukovic to scramble across. His efforts were in vain though as the shot sailed off-target.

Returning from suspension Pedj Bojic turned in his customary energetic performance, and a strong run down the flank saw him whip in a cross that should have been rewarded with his side-s second goal.

The Mariners welcomed a new player into the Central Coast fraternity when Michael Baird was introduced into the attack in the 63rd minute. Baird-s first contribution was a lovely flick onto Perez, and he received a warm introduction from the Bluetongue faithful.

Try as they might after the early flurry of chances the Mariners couldn-t hold onto possession as Wellington pushed forward in search of an elusive goal. Whilst they couldn-t fabricate any real chances from open play, Macallister hit a stinging drive from a free kick that almost netted a goal in the 75th minute.

Ryan had an outstanding match between the sticks, and he did well to deny the shot from the big Wellington striker. His confidence has returned, and he soared high comfortably several times to prevent any real threat from the Phoenix attacking raids.

It was a nervous last ten minutes for the Mariners but composed defence across the park saw them home. Strong performances in midfield from Oliver Bozanic and Rostyn Griffiths ensured that most of the visitors possession was well away from the goal. When they did break, Alex Wilkinson, Bojic, Rose and Zwaanswijk combined as a unit to quickly shut them down. Zwaanswijk in particular demonstrated all his experience and guile to frustrate the Wellington defenders, and it was his clear his younger teammates were taking notes.

Mustafa Amini made a cameo appearance off the bench and got into some good positions that could potentially have netted the Mariners a game-sealing second goal, but it wasn-t to be.

At this stage of the season every point is valuable, and the Mariners can look forward to Wednesday-s clash with the Brisbane Roar confident in their ability to compete for 90 minutes.

Graham Arnold and his playing group are looking forward to the challenge.

“That-s ten clean sheets from 22 games, and we build our formation around our defence, and teams find it hard to break us down.

“The progress of this team has been enormous, and I-m very proud of where we are at, but the boys know there is still plenty of improvement left in them.”

“We-ve got a tough game now against Brisbane on Wednesday, and we-re looking forward to it,” said Arnold.

Match Details

Central Coast Mariners 1 (McGlinchey 41-)
Wellington Phoenix 0

Central Coast Mariners: 20. Mathew RYAN (gk), 2. Daniel McBREEN (13. Michael BAIRD 63-), 3. Joshua ROSE, 4. Pedj BOJIC, 6. Patrick ZWAANSWIJK, 8. Rostyn GRIFFITHS, 10. Patricio PEREZ (22. Mustafa AMINI 82-), 11. Oliver BOZANIC, 14. Michael McGLINCHEY, 18. Alex WILKINSON (c), 19. Matt SIMON,

Subs not Used: 30. Paul HENDERSON (gk), 7. John HUTCHINSON.

Yellow Cards: None
Red Cards: None

Wellington Phoenix: 19. Danny VUKOVIC (gk), 2. Manny MUSCAT, 3. Tony LOCHHEAD, 4. Nick WARD (7. Leo BERTOS 56-), 6. Tim BROWN, 13. Troy HEARFIELD (9. Chris GREENACRE 63-), 17. Vince LIA, 18. Ben SIGMUND, 21. Marco ROJAS (11. DANIEL 52-), 22. Andrew DURANTE, 23. Dylan MACALLISTER.

Subs not Used: 20. Reece CROWTHER (gk).

Yellow Cards: Muscat 44-, Durante 82-
Red Cards: None

Referee: Matthew BREEZE
Crowd: 6,844 at Bluetongue Stadium, Gosford.