Luckless in Launceston

The Central Coast Mariners have drawn with a second Hyundai A-league opponent in as many weeks, after a questionable disallowed first half goal saw them forced to settle for a scoreless draw by Melbourne Victory at Launceston’s Aurora Stadium.

The Central Coast Mariners have drawn with a second Hyundai A-league opponent in as many weeks, after a questionable disallowed first half goal saw them forced to settle for a scoreless draw against Melbourne Victory at Launceston-s Aurora Stadium.

“It-s always good to gauge ourselves against one of the best teams in the league and (Melbourne are) probably the most successful team in the history of the A-League at the moment, and I think we learned a few lessons but overall I was very happy,” said Mariners Head Coach Graham Arnold.

A decent crowd was on hand at Northern Tasmania-s premiere venue on a beautiful albeit cold afternoon, and on their fourth visit to the ground, the Victory almost made the perfect start.

Jess Vanstrattan, with his first involvement of any kind in Mariners colours had to make himself big to block former Central Coast midfielder Tom Pondeljak when he found himself through on goal five minutes in.

Patricio Perez, also in his first start in Yellow and Navy was looking dangerous through the middle of the park and found himself standing over a free-kick on ten minutes, but despite his best efforts with a curling delivery, the Victory was able to clear the danger.

Michael McGlinchey, providing another creative outlet to complement the diminutive Argentine linked well with Brad Porter to send the Kanwal Rovers junior into space, but once again Melbourne were able to deny a cross, and while they conceded a corner, they easily dealt with the resultant set piece.

Adrian Leijer picked up the first booking as Melbourne became a little frustrated late in the opening half, and the Mariners thought they had compounded that frustration with the opening goal on the stroke of half time.

Perez was brought down on the right edge of the box and sent another curling free-kick into the mix which Adam Kwasnik duly headed home, but the Assistant Referee ruled that Kwasnik had somehow strayed into an offside position in the crowd as the ball was whipped in, ensuring both sides would enter the sheds remained locked at nil-all.

“I-m not sure. That-s the way it is, it-s pretty tough to make the call when there are players are crossing over but it would have been nice to grab that goal going into the second half,” said Mariners captain Alex Wilkinson.

Daniel McBreen was introduced at Kwasnik-s expense at the break and the former North Queensland and Perth marksman benefited from a good ball through from Josh Rose to create space down the left and after whipping a cross in Matt Simon and Perez applied heavy pressure to force the hosts into scrambling it away for a corner.

Oliver Bozanic tried his luck from distance but the inevitable flurry of substitutions slowed the pace of the Pre-Season clash somewhat, and Vanstrattan had to be on his toes to pull off a fine save after Tom Pondeljak took a quick free kick on 75 minutes.

After winning a corner from a free kick Brad Porter watched his set piece only half cleared, and from the resultant ball into the area Patrick Zwaanswijk headed at Sebastian Mattei, who had only just replaced Michael Petkovic in the Victory goals.

Robbie Kruse blasted over from the right channel as the clock wound down and then set Nick Ward up in the dying sessions, but he too was unable to keep his shot down, ensuring it would remain all-square in the Mariners final hitout against Hyundai A-League opposition before the start of the season proper in eleven days time.

“It was a good game. I think both teams should be very happy, I think Melbourne would be very happy with their hitout as well because it-s good to get on the field and play matches,” said Arnold.

“I thought in the first half we were too deep. I think the space between the midfield and the defence was far too big and we gave Melbourne too much room to play, but in the second half that improved enormously and we pretty much didn-t give them any chances until the last five minutes.”

That sentiment echoed by Wilkinson.

“I thought in the first half we were a bit stretched out as a team, we let them have too much possession in the midfield so we tried to rectify that in the second half, we tried to play a much tighter game and had a few more chances as well, so all in all a good hitout,” said Wilkinson.

The Mariners now head to Hobart to take on a Tasmanian State team on Tuesday night.

“That-s going to be our last game before Heart so we won-t be taking that game easy at all, we have got 22 players who are playing for positions for that first game on Thursday week so we-ll be taking that game very seriously and we-re looking forward to getting down to Hobart,” said Wilkinson.

Match Details

Central Coast Mariners 0
Melbourne Victory 0

Central Coast Mariners: 1. Jess VANSTRATTAN (GK), 3. Joshua ROSE, 5. Brad PORTER, 6. Patrick ZWAANSWIJK, 7. John HUTCHINSON (8. Rostyn GRIFFITHS 72-), 10. Patricio PEREZ (9. Nik MRDJA 72-), 11. Oliver BOZANIC (12. Matthew LEWIS 80-), 14. Michael McGLINCHEY, 18. Alex WILKINSON (C), 19. Matt SIMON, 23 Adam KWASNIK (2. Daniel McBREEN 46-).

Subs not Used: 20. Mathew RYAN (GK), 17. Chris DOIG.

Yellow Cards: Nil
Red Cards: Nil

Melbourne Victory: 30. Michael PETKOVIC (GK) (40. Sebastian MATTEI (GK) 76-), 2. Kevin MUSCAT (4. Petar FRANJIC 76-), 3. Mate DUGANDZIC (11. Marvin ANGULO 63-), 5. Surat SUKHA (28. Diogo FERREIRA 32-), 6. Leigh BROXHAM (14. Billy CELESKI 65-), 8. Grant BREBNER (22. Nick WARD 72-), 12. Roddy VARGAS, 15. Tom PONDELJAK, 19. Evan BERGER (17. Matthew FOSCHINI 49-), 21. Robbie KRUSE, 23. Adrian LEIJER.

Subs not Used: Nil.

Yellow Cards: Leijer 41-
Red Cards: Nil

Referee: Kevin DOCHERTY