The Central Coast Mariners and Sydney FC have played out another Hyundai A-League classic at Bluetongue Stadium this evening, with the Mariners defeated 3-2 by their southern rivals in another exceptional football showcase.
The Central Coast Mariners and Sydney FC have played out another Hyundai A-League classic at Bluetongue Stadium this evening, with the Mariners defeated 3-2 by their southern rivals in another exceptional endorsement for Australia-s premier football competition.
In front of 10,932 spectators – the largest ever attendance for a first home match of a new Hyundai A-League season on the Central Coast, Sasho Petrovski-s brace for the Mariners was matched by Steve Corica-s for Sydney and then bettered by Shannon Cole-s outstanding free kick winner.
Both sides traded blows with frequency throughout, as has become commonplace for matches between the Hyundai A-League-s two nearest rivals, with the dismissal of Sydney FC debutant Stuart Musialik midway through the second half capping another dramatic chapter in the history between these two east coast adversaries.
The Mariners have now opened their Premiership defence with a draw and a loss and despite having failed to register a win over the past fortnight, can reflect on many positives and look forward to the return to fitness of key players Andre Gumprecht, Dean Heffernan, Mile Jedinak, Dylan Macallister and Greg Owens.
“It-s not as though we-re not scoring goals, tonight we just gave away two easy goals – I think they made three passes in the six yard box for the second goal,” said Mariners Football Manager Lawrie McKinna after the match.
“After we got over that initial fifteen or twenty minutes, we had a few chances but a few things just didn-t bounce for us and it was the same in the second half which was disappointing.
“The good thing is that we got two goals, but losing three at home is harsh – the first two we could have done something about, the third one we couldn-t have – it was a very well taken free kick.”
Until Cole-s sensational late winner, the match was very much a tale of two talismen.
Corica, the Mariners- nemesis in the inaugural Hyundai A-League Grand Final in 2006, firstly showed his experience in just the sixth minute with a calm left footed finish from close range after some sound work on the right flank by Alex Brosque.
Brosque outpaced the Mariners backline and delivered an inch perfect centre for the Sydney FC veteran, who made no mistake in slotting home the first Bluetongue Stadium goal of season four.
Within minutes, however, the Mariners were back level when Petrovski was presented with a chance from the penalty spot after Robbie Middleby and Simon Colosimo brought down Matt Simon.
Petrovski duly found the back of the net – his ninth Hyundai A-League goal for the Mariners, after sending Clint Bolton the wrong way to draw the home side level for barely one minute.
Corica was on the spot again to slam home an assist from Mark Bridge to hand the visitors the ascendancy once more – the third goal within fifteen minutes inciting memories of last December-s nine goal epic between these two sides for the large gallery on hand.
Though Sydney could boast superiority at the break, the were plenty of positives for the Mariners to carry into their half time team talk – particularly the contributions of wide men Adrian Caceres and Ahmad Elrich.
Both were busy throughout the opening forty-five and looked the most likely options to provide the Mariners with an equaliser and, indeed, from an Elrich corner towards the end of the half, captain Alex Wilkinson had a rare shot on goal cleared off the line by a Sydney defender.
Elrich was again provider early in the second half when Petrovski nodded home a typically precise cross from the Qantas Socceroo, only to have his strike correctly ruled offside by the assistant referee.
However, Petrovski did net his second in time and Elrich was predictably the provider.
Elrich showed great invention to flick a pass into Petrovski-s path, with the former Sydney FC lynchpin turning defender Jacob Timpano and sliding a low shot past the outstretched arms of Bolton.
Musialik was shown the red card soon after following a crass challenge on midfield counterpart Bradley Porter, only for Cole to step up to the mark in the closing stages and net a goal worthy of winning any football match.
“We-re hopeful that Macallister and Mile Jedinak will be back next week, I-d say they-ll definitely be involved in some way,” said McKinna.
“Heffernan is still another three to four weeks, but we have to focus on picking ourselves up and getting a competitive team on the park in Queensland next week, because no games are easy in the Hyundai A-League.
“If we get three points up there, that puts us back in the mix and that-s what we-re aiming for.”
The Mariners- Hyundai A-League 2008/09 campaign continues at Brisbane-s Suncorp Stadium on Sunday, 31 August, when the Mariners face the Queensland Roar. Kick off is at 5pm.
The Mariners are next at their Bluetongue Stadium home on Saturday, 20 September, when they host season two Champions and Premiers the Melbourne Victory in Round 5. Kick off is at 7pm.
Tickets for this match are now on sale from Ticketek outlets, from the Ticketek website – www.ticketek.com.au, or via phone on 132 849.
Mariners Memberships for the Hyundai A-League 2008/09 season are now on sale at www.ccmariners.com.au.
Central Coast Mariners 20. Danny Vukovic (gk), 4. Pedj Bojic, 5. Bradley Porter (9. Nik Mrdja 78-), 7. John Hutchinson, 10. Adrian Caceres, 15. Andrew Clark, 16. Nigel Boogaard, 18. Alex Wilkinson, 19. Matt Simon, 21. Ahmad Elrich, 22. Sasho Petrovski
Unused Subs 6. David D-Apuzzo, 17. Matthew Osman, 40. Mark Bosnich (gk)
Yellow Cards Clark 48-, Petrovski 55-, Bojic 56-, Boogaard 80-
Red Cards None
Goals Petrovski 13-P, 67-
Sydney FC 1. Clint Bolton (gk), 2. Iain Fyfe, 4. Simon Colosimo, 7. Robbie Middleby, 8. Stuart Musialik, 10. Steve Corica (26. Dez Giraldi 81-), 12. Shannon Cole (25. Robert Mileski 90-+3), 14. Alex Brosque (16. Chris Payne 89-), 15. Terry McFlynn, 17. Jacob Timpano, 19. Mark Bridge
Unused Subs 20. Ivan Necevski (gk)
Yellow Cards Middleby 34-, Colosimo 45-, Musialik 68-, Musialik 68-, Cole 90-+1, Fyfe 90-+3
Red Cards Musialik 68-
Goals Corica 6-, 14-, Cole 81-
Referee Ben Williams