Late goal keeps Mariners unbeaten

A late Matt Simon goal ensured that the Central Coast Mariners shared the points with Adelaide United in their first home game of the new season. In what was clearly a game of two halves, the Mariners seemed slow out of the blocks, before scoring a late equaliser to consolidate their position on the Hyundai A-League table.

A late Matt Simon goal ensured that the Central Coast Mariners shared the points with Adelaide United in their first home game of the new season. In what was clearly a game of two halves, the Mariners seemed slow out of the blocks, before scoring a late equaliser to consolidate their position on the Hyundai A-League table.

Central Coast Graham Arnold was disappointed with the final result, but pleased that the side-s famous character was again on display this evening.

“I thought that in the first half we were very flat, but in saying that we did create some good chances.

“It was very disappointing to concede that goal right on halftime.

“We had to change things in that second half and I thought we showed good attitude to get ourselves back into the match,” Arnold said.

The coach was particularly happy with the contribution of his left hand edge.

“I though Bozanic was outstanding today, and for Josh Rose-s debut we couldn-t ask for anything more from him.”

Mariners skipper Alex Wilkinson felt that the side had let slip two points slip this afternoon.

“It-s very frustrating, it-s like we had two different teams out there today. In that first half we were lethargic and weren-t doing the work for each other on or off the ball.

“In the end though 1-nil down with ten minutes to go, and we managed to get back into it That-s one of our strong traits, and we-ve got to be happy with that,” said Wilkinson.

Defender Josh Rose finally received his long awaited clearance from former club Universitatea Craiova during the week, and immediately set about putting months of frustration behind him.

Pushing forward from left back, he picked out former Avoca junior Oliver Bozanic with a pinpoint pass. Bozanic evaded his marker and was able to cut across to Matt Simon who laid off the ball for Daniel McBreen.

McBreen-s shot cannoned off the underside of the crossbar, and rebounded into the field of play, but it made clear the Mariners- attacking intentions.

The first of Adelaide-s real chances came just two minutes later when a free kick from the boot of captain Lucas Pantelis surprised the compress Mariners- defence. Iain Fyfe strained to get a boot to the ball but his desperation was in vain.

Pantelis was the next to try his luck with an audacious overhead kick failing to trouble custodian Jess Vanstrattan.

In response the Mariners worked on maintaining possession, particularly in midfield, but Adelaide thwarted the Mariners efforts with some physical challenges. With Argentinean import Patricio Perez unavailable through injury, it was his replacement at the front of the diamond, Matt Simon, who bore the brunt of these challenges.

The physicality didn-t seem to faze Bozanic though who kept pressing forward and provided some solid crosses to the upfront pairing of McBreen and Adam Kwasnik.

Adelaide had the next chance to open the scoring when Lucas Pantelis dragged a shot across the face of goal in the 25th minute. Michael McGlinchey attempted a shot from distance in the hope of catching Eugene Galekovic off his line, but the Adelaide custodian is far too experienced to be beaten by such a ploy and the shot went harmlessly over the top of the bar.

When Jess Vanstrattan was asked to make a save minutes before halftime, it appeared that the sides were destined to go into the break all tied up.

Clearly the visitors from the South Australian capital had other ideas, and on the last kick of the first half they managed to score through the boot of Iain Fyfe.

A free kick was awarded to Adelaide in an easily defensible position, but some woeful defending saw Fyfe stroll through the penalty box unopposed.

Graham Arnold clearly gave his charges some stern words during the break, and the home side responded with increased intensity, particularly in defense.

Adelaide appeared content to sit back on their lead, while the Mariners continued to press forward. A double substitute on the hour mark, which resulted in a change of formation was the catalyst for a period of dominance for the home side.

A well-worked interchange of passes between McBreen, McGlinchey saw a Bozanic shot tapped over the bar by Eugene Galekovic.

Minutes later Simon, playing in the more familiar striking role was unable to hit the target, when he was able to evade the Adelaide cover defence. The frustration was clearly evident on the marksman face, but to his credit, he didn-t drop his head and continued to press forward in search of that elusive goal.

Moments later, a cross from Pedj Bojic was headed goal-wards by McBreen. Unfortunately for the big striker, he was unable to get the required power on the ball to steer it inside the unguarded near post. McBreen didn-t have to wait long for an opportunity of redemption, when he tried his luck from distance just thirty seconds later. To his chagrin, Adelaide custodian Galekovic had no problems defusing the situation.

The Mariners next chance fell to the experienced John Hutchinson who was again thwarted by Galekovic. Despite the limitations of only being on the field for thirty seconds, Adelaide-s best chance of the half fell to Cameron Watson, who went within inches of doubling the lead. From the resulting counterattack, the Mariners went the length of the field, only to see Bozanic-s volley sail over the crossbar.

Momentum was well and truly with the home side, and it was Matt Simon, frustrated by his earlier miss, who was on hand to tap home the equaliser. A foul on Nik Mrdja in the lead up saw some appeals for a penalty, but it was not forthcoming from referee Kris Griffiths-Jones. Fortunately the Mariners continued to play on and the ball eventually found its way to the boot of Simon who was able to tap it into an empty net.

Not content with the equaliser, the home side was desperate for all three points to further cement their position on the Hyundai A-League table. Drama erupted in the 86th minute when Adelaide defender Adam Hughes was sent off for a second bookable offence. Mrdja stepped up to take the shot, but unfortunately for him his shot was off target.

Bojic, who impressed throughout his cameo appearance in the second half continued to press forward and in the third minute of stoppage time thought he had won his side a penalty. A stinging shot from the energetic Bojic appeared to make contact with the arm of defender Daniel Mullen, but the referee was unsighted and ruled play on.

In the dying seconds of the match Mrdja had one final opportunity to steal the victory for the home side but the ball just failed to connect with his outstretched right foot.

The final say appropriately belongs to Graham Arnold.

“We-re trying to play good football, and we-re gradually coming together.”

Match Details

Central Coast Mariners 1 (Simon 84-)
Adelaide United 1 (Fyfe 45+1-)

Central Coast Mariners: 1. Jess VANSTRATTAN (gk), 2. Daniel MCBREEN (9. Nik MRDJA 71-), 3. Joshua ROSE, 5. Brad PORTER, (4. Pedj BOJIC 60-), 6. Patrick ZWAANSWIJK, 7. John HUTCHINSON, 11. Oliver BOZANIC, 14. Michael MCGLINCHEY, 18. Alex WILKINSON (c), 19. Matt SIMON, 23. Adam KWASNIK (8. Rostyn GRIFFITHS 60-).

Subs not Used: 20. Mathew RYAN (gk).

Yellow Cards: Rose 18-, Zwaanswik 70-, Bozanic 90+4-
Red Cards: Nil

Adelaide United: 1. Eugene GALEKOVIC (gk), 4. Iain FYFE, 5. Daniel MULLEN, 6. CASSIO, 7. Lucas PANTELIS (c), 8. Adam HUGHES, 9. Sergio VAN DIJK (15. Francesco MONTEROSSO 90+4-), 10. Marcos FLORES (17. Iain RAMSAY 71-), 12. Paul REID, 16. Inseob SHIN (24. Cameron WATSON 69-), 19. Matthew LECKIE.

Subs not Used: 20. Mark BIRIGHITTI (gk).

Yellow Cards: Mullen 36-, Galekovic 87-
Red Cards: Hughes 86-

Crowd: 8,447 at Bluetongue Stadium, Gosford.