CENTRAL Coast Mariners have returned from Japan to notch up an important 1-0 win over old foes Brisbane Roar to keep their bid for the 2012/13 Hyundai A-League Premier’s Plate alive.
CENTRAL Coast Mariners have returned from Japan to notch up an important 1-0 win over old foes Brisbane Roar to keep their bid for the 2012/13 Hyundai A-League Premier-s Plate alive.
A touch of first half class from Bernie Ibini was all that was needed for the Mariners to secure a guaranteed top two position on the ladder with just two regular season rounds remaining.
The round 25 Hyundai A-League fixture at Bluetongue Stadium was a must win for Central Coast as Graham Arnold-s men looked to renew their hopes of winning a second successive Premiership.
The opening chance of the match fell to Brisbane from a set piece. Steven Lustica attacked a pass from a corner and fired his first time shot over the crossbar 12 minutes in.
Mariners- midfield maestro Michael McGlinchey hit an impressive volley in the 24th minute that was tipped behind by Michael Theo for a corner.
The Brisbane shot-stopper pulled out an equally impressive save to thwart a diving Daniel McBreen header and then watched Bernie Ibini lift the follow up shot over the bar soon after.
But Ibini was the man to break the deadlock in the 35th minute. Picking the ball up just outside Brisbane-s 18-yard box, Ibini managed to turn two defenders before squeezing a crisp shot beyond Theo.
The goal was Ibini-s seventh of the season, equaling his total from last season-s Hyundai A-League campaign.
Just three minutes later Ibini turned creator with a pinpoint through ball to a charging Nick Fitzgerald who was facing off against his old club for the first time. Fitzgerald deftly flicked the ball to McGlinchey in the box, however his strike flew over the bar.
The second half started in a similar fashion to the end of the first and the Mariners had the first clear cut chance to go further ahead as a Joshua Rose cross found McGlinchey in the area. The nimble New Zealander failed to hit the target with another close range volley in the 62nd minute.
Brisbane were on the counter attack straight away as foreign duo Stefan Nijland and Besart Berisha raced to the other end of the pitch. Dutchman Nijland couldn-t get the better of the Central Coast Mariners custodian while some desperate defending thwarted Albanian Berisha-s follow up effort.
The final 20 minutes of play were contested in a tense nature as the Mariners showcased a much more defensive style of play to hold out a desperate Roar keen to secure at least a point from their travels.
Nevertheless, the pacey Mitchell Duke looked dangerous on the break as he continued to combine with McBreen, Ibini, and substitute Oliver Bozanic as Central Coast searched sporadically for a second.
Despite four minutes of stoppage time and a number of set piece opportunities for Roar, the Mariners defence remained strong, with Ryan earning yet another clean-sheet to add to his season-s tally.
Following the game Central Coast Mariners Head Coach Graham Arnold praised the effort and fight of his players who returned from their AFC Champions League matchday 2 clash with Kashiwa Reysol in the land of the rising sun little more than two days ago.
“I thought the effort and the performance in our defensive structure, and the fight, was exceptional,” Arnold said.
“It could have been three or four at half time. Theo made some good saves, and we totally dominated in the first half.”
“We-ve sewn up second spot (and) for this Club, this season has been a massive success already.”
“Whatever happens this season, this season has been a massive success for the Club.”
Arnold indicated that he would look to rest players leading into the Hyundai A-League Finals Series, as the team aims to write its name in Central Coast and Australian club football history over the next two months.
Central Coast Mariners 1 (Ibini 35-) Brisbane Roar 0 Bluetongue Stadium, Gosford
Central Coast Mariners: 1. Mathew RYAN (Gk), 2. Daniel MCBREEN, 3. Joshua ROSE, 5. Zachary ANDERSON, 6. Patrick ZWAANSWIJK, 7. John HUTCHINSON (c), 9. Bernie IBINI, 14. Michael MCGLINCHEY (19. Mitchell DUKE 67-), 16. Trent SAINSBURY, 18. Nick MONTGOMERY, 29. Nick FITZGERALD (11. Oliver BOZANIC 61-) Substitutes not used: 20. Justin PASFIELD (Gk), 13. Brent GRIFFITHS Yellow cards: Hutchinson Red cards: Nil
Brisbane Roar: 1. Michael THEO, 3. Shane STEFANUTTO, 5. Ivan FRANJIC, 7. Besart BERISHA, 9. Stefan NIJLAND, 13. Jade NORTH, 14. Stevan LUSTICA (17. Mitchell NICHOLS 60-), 15. James DONACHIE, 18. Luke BRATTAN (8. Massimo MURDOCCA 78-), 19. Jack HINGERT (11. Ben HALLORAN 60-), 22. Thomas BROICH (c) Substitute not used: 20. Matthew ACTON (Gk) Yellow cards: Hingert, Donachie Red cards: Nil
Referee: Alan Milliner Attendance: 7,225