Nathan Burns’ 54th minute strike from close range helped Wellington Phoenix edge Central Coast Mariners 2-1 in Hyundai A-League 2014/15 round 2 played in Gosford on Saturday.
The Mariners – playing their third match within seven days following wins over Newcastle Jets and Palm Beach Sharks (Westfield FFA Cup) – produced what coach Phil Moss believes was a better display than their effort against the Novocastrians a week earlier, however ultimately came up short against a Phoenix side that made the most of its chances in the game.
Moss’s men took an early lead in the fixture when Kim Seung-yong’s pass into the box put the Phoenix under pressure. With Matt Sim looking to pounce, Tom Doyle and Glen Moss got their wires crossed, and the ‘Nix’s number 19 inadvertently touched the ball beyond his custodian and into the back of his own net.
The Mariners dominated the majority play in the first 45 but didn’t make the most of their chances and were hit with a sucker-punch ten minutes before the interval when referee Ben Williams awarded Phoenix a penalty. Mariners debutant Jacob Poscoliero was shown a yellow card for bringing down Jeremy Brockie in the area, though replays indicated Brockie may well have been in an offside position when he received the ball.
However, having won the penalty, Brockie took the chance to restore parity from 12-yards himself. The New Zealand international’s effort from the spot struck the crossbar, but with the Mariners slow to react, former player Michael McGlinchey managed to head past a stranded Liam Reddy to make the score 1-1.
Phoenix came out after the break looking the sharper of the two teams and it took them less than ten minutes in the second stanza to take the lead. Burns clinically finished a sweet move involving McGlinchey, Doyle and Brockie to put Ernie Merrick’s men ahead.
Sensing his side needed some spark Moss made three quick-fire changes, introducing Glen Trifiro, Anthony Caceres and Nick Fitzgerald as he looked to inspire his charges. Certainly, the trio made an impact on proceedings, however Fitzgerald’s header which hit the post plus Trifiro’s goal-bound shot which was palmed away by Phoenix goalkeeper Glen Moss was as close as the Mariners came to salvaging a point from the match.
“We gifted them two goals and at this level you can’t do that,” Central Coast Mariners Head Coach Phil Moss said post-game.
“We took the lead and we pride ourselves on this being a fortress at Central Coast Stadium – when you go 1-nil up you can’t afford to give away goals of any sort, let alone gift-wrapped.”
“Ironically, I thought the overall performance this week was much better than last week. Last week we got three points, and this week we’ve got nothing to show for it.”
“I was very happy with the impact that Trifiro, Fitzgerald and Caceres all had. They’re quality footballers and they’re unlucky not to be in the starting eleven at the moment, so I thought all three of them came in and did extremely well and gave us momentum off the bench.”
“We’ve now got two weeks to prepare for Sydney and there are some selection decisions to be made, certainly.”
“I know I have 24 players to choose from, and any one of them deserves to play first eleven, they all work so hard for themselves, for the team, for me, every week. We’ve got two weeks now to prepare for Sydney, so training form will count for a fair bit in the next two weeks,” he said.
Central Coast Mariners 1 (Doyle 12’ [OG])
Wellington Phoenix 2 (McGlinchey 35’, Burns 54’)
Central Coast Stadium, Gosford
Referee: Ben Williams
Central Coast Mariners FC: 2. Storm ROUX, 3. Joshua ROSE, 4. Jacob POSCOLIERO, 7. John HUTCHINSON (C), 8. Nick MONTGOMERY (10. Anthony CACERES 64’), 9. Mitchell DUKE, 12. Liam REDDY (Gk), 14. Malick MANÉ (11. Nick FITZGERALD 72’), 15. Matthew SIM, 25. Eddy BOSNAR, 26. KIM Seung-yong (18. Glen TRIFIRO 55’)
Substitutes not used: 1. Matthew NASH (Gk), 5. Zachary ANDERSON
Yellow cards: Poscoliero, Roux, Reddy
Red cards: Nil
Wellington Phoenix FC: 1. Glen MOSS (Gk), 2. Manny MUSCAT, 4. Rolieny BONEVACIA (16. Louis FENTON 71’), 8. Alex RODRIGUEZ, 9. Nathan BURNS, 10. Michael MCGLINCHEY (17. Vince LIA 85’), 11. Jeremy BROCKIE (7. Kenny CUNNINGHAM 79’), 13. Albert RIERA, 18. Benjamin SIGMUND, 19. Thomas DOYLE, 22. Andrew DURANTE (C)
Substitutes not used: 5. Michael BOXALL, 20. Lewis ITALIANO (Gk)
Yellow cards: Brockie
Red cards: Nil