The Central Coast Mariners have gone down swinging on a balmy evening at Bluetongue Stadium, defeated 3-nil by top-of-the-table Melbourne Victory, although the scoreline didn’t quite reflect the true nature of the match.
The Central Coast Mariners have gone down swinging on a balmy evening at Bluetongue Stadium, defeated 3-nil by top-of-the-table Melbourne Victory, although the scoreline didn-t quite reflect the true nature of the match.
Lawrie McKinna-s men dominated for a huge chunk of the first half but had a cruel streak of bad luck in front of goal, while the Victory were clinical in taking the chances they had.
“Tonight it wasn-t to be. We got beaten 3-nil, but we can-t believe it,” said Mariners- Football Manager Lawrie McKinna.
“They were clinical in that front third, we weren-t as clinical as them.”
The Victory came to Gosford searching for redemption after back-to-back losses against the Yellow and Navy this season, were searching for redemption, the Central Coast was keen on completing a 3-nil whitewash over the defending double winners this campaign, but it was the visitors who looked the livelier of the two sides early on.
Carlos Hernandez was played through after six minutes and was one-on-one with the advancing Danny Vukovic, but the assistant referee ruled the Costa Rican had strayed into an offside position.
The Mariners- first chance came in the form of a cross in from the right from Brad Porter, but Adam Kwasnik couldn-t quite get his head to it.
Hernandez was again involved soon after when Archie Thompson cut a ball back for his strike partner, who sent a vicious shot wide of Vukovic-s right hand post.
The hosts worked their way back into the contest and Matt Simon poked a boot out ahead of the advancing Mitchell Langerak in the 13th minute, but the touch didn-t quite drop, while Matthew Lewis, in just his second start, fed Kwasnik two minutes later, but the Mariners- frontman shot over the bar.
Matthew Kemp was looking lively for the visitors and went on a mazy run to the byline before cutting the ball back into the mix, luckily for the Yellow and Navy, Brad Porter was in the right place to clear to safety.
It was the last real chance of the half for the Victory as Lawrie McKinna-s men stepped up a gear, first, Dean Heffernan delivered a lovely ball in from the left, and Matt Simon showed plenty of strength to get in front of Leigh Broxham to send a stinging header goalbound, only to be denied by a brilliant reflex save by Langerak.
The next chance fell to Nicky Travis, who fired a first time effort from a tight angle at Langerak, after latching on to a good ball through from Kwasnik, before the Sheffield United product had the Victory custodian beaten at the far post, however his volley went agonizingly wide.
Kwasnik picked up a loose ball in midfield to go on a run and fire a low drive at Langerak as the half wound down, giving the hosts plenty of confidence heading into the second stanza.
Pedj Bojic got the second half rolling by firing a 30 yard effort at Langerak but again the Victory survived, and when they got a chance soon after, they took full advantage.
Thompson and Kemp had been combining well down the right hand side all night and it was that pairing who linked up for the opener, Kemp delivering a ball into the area after being fed by Thompson, and Hernandez was Johnny on the Spot to coolly slot the ball home.
It could well have been one-all on 64 minutes, when Nik Mrdja, who had been on the field only seconds, flicked a corner into the near post on to Bojic, who beat Langerak but could only find the back post.
Leigh Broxham could consider himself fortunate only to receive a booking for a lunge on Nicky Travis on 68 minutes, and from the ensuing move, Broxham managed to stick out a foot and deflect a seemingly goalbound effort from Ahmad Elrich.
The Mariners- luck just wasn-t in, as two minutes later, Thompson and Kemp combined again, as the Qantas Socceroo striker found Kemp at the near post, who finished neatly from close range.
It was 3-nil soon after and Kemp was again heavily involved, his cross deflected off Alex Wilkinson, and snuck inside the post after Nigel Boogaard tried to mop up.
The Central Coast-s night was best summed up on 88 minutes, when Ahmad Elrich found himself unmarked at the back post, but headed a Dean Heffernan cross wide.
Heffernan had one final chance to find a late consolation, but Langerak completed his impressive evening and a clean sheet, by diving to his right to parry a fierce 30-yard shot wide.
“It was probably similar to the Melbourne game down there when we defended well and scored four goals. The first 20 minutes was good defensively, we got into the game and then 20 minutes before half time we got on top.
“After half time we were on top again, and then Matthew Lewis, who had a good game, let Kemp get in behind him, it was a great delivery and a good finish by a quality player. The second goal was another great cross for Kempy to finish into the roof of the net, and that was it, game gone.
“At 1-nil, Pedj (Bojic) hit the post, and that could have turned the game.
“Up until they scored I don-t think Danny (Vukovic) had a save to make. Before they scored they didn-t really look like scoring, we looked quite comfortable with them,” said McKinna.
The Mariners are still fourth, and can stay there depending on the outcome of Newcastle-s clash with Gold coast tomorrow, but McKinna is still confident of a top two finish.
“It-s always achievable, but it-s going to be hard. With the results this season, anyone who gets into the top six is going to be in with a shout because everybody has been taking points off everybody.
“It is a long way but we have to believe that we can get in there,” said McKinna.
The Mariners- next home match of the Hyundai A-League 2009/10 season will be against Brisbane Roar on Saturday, 19 December. Kick-off is at 6:00pm. Tickets are available online here or by phoning 132 849.
Mariners Four Match Christmas Packs are available online by clicking here
Central Coast Mariners 20. Danny VUKOVIC (GK), 4. Pedj BOJIC, 5. Brad PORTER, 7. John HUTCHINSON (2. Matthew CROWELL 78-), 8. Dean HEFFERNAN, 12. Matthew LEWIS (21. Ahmad ELRICH 67-), 16. Nigel BOOGAARD, 18. Alex WILKINSON (c), 1. Matt SIMON, 22. Nicky TRAVIS, 23. Adam KWASNIK (9. Nik MRDJA 64-).
Unused Subs 1. Andrew REDMAYNE (GK).
Yellow Cards Heffernan 49-, Hutchinson 58-, Boogaard 84-
Red Cards None
Melbourne Victory 1. Mitchell LANGERAK (GK), 2. Kevin MUSCAT, 5. Surat SUKHA (17. Matthew FOSCHINI 42-), 6. Leigh BROXHAM, 7. Matthew KEMP, 10. Archie THOMPSON (C), 12. Rodrigo VARGAS, 15. Tom PONDLEJAK, 16. Carlos HERNANDEZ (27. Sutee SUKSOMKIT 80-), 21. Robbie KRUSE (3. Mate DUGANDZIC 90+2-), 23. Adrian LEIJER.
Unused Subs 20. Glen MOSS (GK).
Yellow Cards Broxham 68-
Red Cards None
Goals Hernandez 57-, Kemp 70-, Boogaard (og) 77-
Referee Ryan SHEPHEARD