Mariners four-tunes take upward shift

What a difference a week in football makes. The Central Coast Mariners bounced back in the best possible fashion defeating Sydney FC 4-nil in their Week 17 Hyundai A-League clash this evening. It was the Mariners’ biggest victory over their Sydney rivals, and it started early with Adam Kwasnik’s opener coming after just 29 seconds of play.

What a difference a week in football makes. The Central Coast Mariners bounced back in the best possible fashion defeating Sydney FC 4-nil in their Week 17 Hyundai A-League clash this evening. It was the Mariners- biggest victory over their Sydney rivals, and it started early with Adam Kwasnik-s opener coming after just 29 seconds of play.

Graham Arnold was understandably thrilled with the start from his side.

“It was a great start, you dream of those starts. The focus for the week has been reaction. We were all embarrassed by our performance last week. We wanted to show what the Mariners were about.

“I thought the football we played tonight was top-shelf. Forgetting the two goals in the first five minutes, the way we played tonight was fantastic. Especially in that first half with the way we moved the ball around,” said Arnold.

Though reluctant to single out the performance of any one player, Arnold praised the efforts of Adam Kwasnik.

“He (Kwasnik) has been brilliant all year, and I can say that honestly. He was the leading goal scorer in pre-season before having a brief flat period, but his attitude and his mentality has been first class. He-s been scoring goals and adding spark off the bench before getting his opportunity through McBreen-s suspension. He bided his time and now is giving me plenty of headaches.

“It was an ideal time to bring Perez back. We couldn-t have dreamed of a better time. Being up 4-nil and for him to go out and get a run, and get some rhythm back was a positive. Tonight showed there-s plenty of pressure for places,” Arnold said.

Captain Alex Wilkinson agreed with his coach about the performance.

“The focus all week has been on turning it around. You could tell straight away that the boys were up for it. 2-nil after five minutes, you couldn-t have asked for a better start.

“I-m so proud of how the boys responded. We copped a lot of criticism about our performance last week. It goes to show that wasn-t a Mariners performance, and now we-ve set a standard that we-ve got to keep going. We-ve got a tough away trip to Perth next week and we-re looking forward to it.”

When asked if it was one of the best performances he had been involved in his half-decade with the club, the captain considered his answer.

“I think the first half definitely was. The way we kept the ball from the back was very pleasing. Our midfield put in an enormous shift tonight. There were times when they were outnumbered but they got back, and then had the energy to get the ball out wide. So from that perspective, yes I say it was a very pleasing performance,” Wilkinson said.

The new Bluetongue turf has had a habit of producing goals – eleven, in fact since the pitch was re-christened just over three weeks ago. It took the Mariners just 29 seconds to add to that tally. Sydney FC were dispossessed on the halfway line, and the Mariners quickly launched a counter-attack through Mustafa Amini.

The precociously talented youngster who was recently named NAB Young Footballer of the Year November nominee, released an absolute gem of a pass that allowed Matt Simon to break away. Simon crossed the ball to a lurking Kwasnik who tapped it home.

Joshua Rose went within inches of doubling the lead just a minute later. The left back, who has been so impressive in attack over the last month pushed forward and was only thwarted by a fine save from Sydney-s custodian Ivan Necevski.

The Mariners wouldn-t have to wait long for that second goal, it came in the fifth minute. The goal-scorer turned provider, releasing Rose with a perfectly timed through-ball that split the Sydney defence. Rose furthered the movement by crossing to a sprinting Simon. Simon showed tremendous presence of mind to beat a diving Necevski to the ball and net himself a splendid poacher-s goal.

Sydney-s only real chance of the half came in the 10th minute. Mathew Ryan pulled off an outstanding save to deny a goal-bound effort from the head of Mark Bridge. Bridge who has broken Mariners- hearts several times in the past could only glare in frustration at the young ‘keeper.

The Mariner-s passing talents were on full display as they went searching for a match-defining third goal. Passes were finding their marks and there were always plenty of options for the ball-runner. Pedj Bojic, himself returning from a three-week absence pushed forward creating headaches for Sydney-s defence.

Rostyn Griffiths provided a defence-splitting pass to Kwasnik who-s resulting volley was well saved by Necevski.

Kwasnik starting for just the third time this season was in a menacing mood, and netted his second goal of the evening in the 23rd minute. He was the beneficiary of some more outstanding play by Simon, and some defensive work that Hayden Foxe will be desperate to forget. His air-swing allowed Kwasnik to blast home for his 7th goal in the last eight games, equaling his tally from season two of the Hyundai A-League.

With most of the traffic heading down the right flank, Oliver Bozanic had very little work to do in the first half. He more than made up for it with his cross almost providing Kwasnik a first half hat-trick. It was the Mariners final scoring chance of the half, and the home side went into the break with a deserved 3-nil lead.

It took the Mariners just 17 seconds to rub salt into Sydney-s wounds when play resumed, although they didn-t net the goal themselves. Simon made an incisive break down the left flank and attempted to cross the ball into his waiting support. Sydney defender Sebastian Ryall threw his legs at the dipping ball in a desperate attempt to stop the pass finding its target. All he managed to do was to deflect the ball past a fuming Necevski.

The home side was enjoying every minute and continued to press forward, keen to inflect more pain on their hapless rivals.

With the result decided by the hour mark, Graham Arnold felt confident in giving Patricio Perez time to find his legs after an extended break from football. The imported dynamo received a standing ovation when he entered the field, and in his cameo appearance made some nice touches. He will be better for the run.

In the first quarter of the second half, Sydney FC were mainly reduced to shooting from distance. Ryan who appears to have regained confidence was alert and watchful, calmly making the correct decisions to frustrate the Sydney attackers.

Terry Antonis had several chances, but the Mariners defence of Rose, Patrick Zwaanswijk, Wilkinson and Doig stood firm constantly communicating with each other to close down the chances.

Sydney went closest through Dimitri Petratos who hit the woodwork, but ultimately the Mariners kept their opponents scoreless.

At the other end of the park the Mariners continued pressing forward. Though they were no longer splitting Sydney-s defence at will, they still went in search of a fifth goal. Simon was in everything in an energetic display they highlighted the maturity and finesse the striker now has in his game. McGlinchey was making a nuisance of himself, as was Rose and Bozanic.

Kwasnik was desperate for a hat-trick, and to his credit never stopped searching for it. His best chance was in the 59th minute, but the shot was well saved.

Sitting in the bowels of Bluetongue Stadium last weekend reflecting on the loss to the Brisbane Roar Graham Arnold said the key question would be how his side would react to such a defeat.

It took just twenty-nine seconds for his charges to answer.

Match Details

Central Coast Mariners 4 (Kwasnik 1-, 23-, Simon 5-, Ryall 46- (og))
Sydney FC 0

Central Coast Mariners: 20. Mathew RYAN (gk), 3. Joshua ROSE, 4. Pedj BOJIC (17. Chris DOIG 67-), 6. Patrick ZWAANSWIJK, 8. Rostyn GRIFFITHS (7. John HUTCHINSON 78-), 11. Oliver BOZANIC, 14. Michael McGLINCHEY, 18. Alex WILKINSON (c), 19. Matt SIMON, 22. Mustafa AMINI (10. Patricio PEREZ 63-), 23. Adam KWASNIK.

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

Yellow Cards: Amini 32-
Red Cards: None

Sydney FC: 20. Ivan NECEVSKI (gk), 2. Sebastian RYALL, 5. Hayden FOXE, 7. Brendan GAN (11. Kofi DANNING 63-), 8. Stuart MUSIALIK (6. Hirofumi MORIYASU 41-), 12. Shannon COLE, 15. Terry McFLYNN, (c), 16. Terry ANTONIS, 19. Mark BRIDGE, 22. Sung-Hwan BYUN, 24. Dimitri PETRATOS.

Subs not Used: 1. Liam REDDY (gk), 3. Stephan KELLER.

Yellow Cards: Ryall 20-, McFlynn 29-
Red Cards: None

Referee: Matthew BREEZE
Crowd: 7,160 at Bluetongue Stadium, Gosford.

The Central Coast Mariners next match of the 2010/11 Hyundai A-League campaign will be against Perth Glory next Sunday, 12 December at ME Bank Stadium, Perth. Kick-off is at 5:00pm WST (8:00pm AEDT).