Advantage Roar in race for first Grand Final place

Central Coast Mariners have been defeated 2-0 by Brisbane Roar in the first leg of their Hyundai A-League major semi-final duel played at Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane this afternoon.

Central Coast Mariners have been defeated 2-0 by Brisbane Roar in the first leg of their Hyundai A-League major semi-final duel played at Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane this afternoon.

An eighth minute goal by Henrique combined with a late effort from midfielder Erik Paartalu did the damage for the home team, handing Ange Postecoglou-s side the advantage heading into the second leg of the tie next Sunday 8 April at Bluetongue Stadium.

Indeed, both teams will have clashes in the AFC Champions League to contend with before they meet at Gosford-s idyllic bayside arena - the Mariners hosting Seongnam Ilwha Chunma of the K-League, while Roar travel away to play Ulsan Hyundai of the same domestic competition in South Korea.

Mariners boss Graham Arnold believes the two teams respective schedules could play a telling factor in the second leg, with the yellow and navy set to spend a full week at their home base, while Roar must make the long journey north.

“We-ve got 24 hours more recovery than them and a lot less travelling so hopefully we can use that to our advantage,” Arnold said post match.

“It-s a tough trip into South Korea … and back again. They-re going to get tired, they-re going to get weary.”

“I could tell that some of the mistakes that players were making were down to fatigue, not technique.”

“I-ve had enough experience in the past, two-nil score lines are dangerous, and we-re going home back to Bluetongue and we-re very positive that we can turn it around,” he said.

After a week of intense build-up, the highly anticipated fixture started at a cracking pace with the Mariners enjoying the first opportunity of the encounter. The crafty Tomas Rogic did well to release striker Bernie Ibini, however while Ibini managed to turn Matt Smith in the box, his left-footed effort lacked the power necessary to seriously trouble Michael Theoklitos.

Just five minutes later Roar were awarded a slightly contentious penalty when defender Josh Rose was adjudged to have fouled Henrique in the area. Replays showed Rose may have indeed got a touch on ball as he attempted to clear the danger, however referee Strebre Delovski saw enough in the challenge to award Roar the chance to score from 12-yards.

Mathew Ryan-s reputation grows by the game for his amazing ability to perform heroics between the sticks, and so it was again that the keeper underlined his class by stopping Henrique-s shot from the spot. Leaping to his left, Ryan pushed the Brazilian-s low effort to safety.

Unfortunately for Graham Arnold-s men, Roar would take less than a minute to fashion an opportunity from which they would take the lead. Thomas Broich-s corner found the head of Mohamed Adnan, and while the Bahraini defenders- effort was stopped on the line, no one could prevent Henrique from poking the rebound into the back of the net from close range.

Just four minutes after Henrique-s strike, Ange Postecoglou-s team nearly doubled their advantage. Instrumental in the opener, Broich found Albanian attacker Besart Berisha with an incisive pass. Berisha attempted to round Ryan, and for a split second looked set to net. However, Ryan somehow managed to claw the ball back into his possession from behind Berisha, averting the extremely imminent danger.

Shortly after Ryan was called into action again, and again came up with a series of important interventions. First, the 19-year-old thwarted an Ivan Franjic effort on the angle, and only a minute later managed to tip a stinging Berisha drive from the edge of the box over the bar.

The Mariners had one half chance through Ibini close to half time to restore parity to the match, however the strikers drive took a deflection and as such lacked the power necessary to pass Theoklitos.

Indeed, Central Coast looked a more threatening force after the interval and almost found a leveler just four minutes into the second 45. Right-back Pedj Bojic-s accurate cross found Rogic, with the silky number 17-s header smartly saved by Theoklitos before Adnan bashed the ball up field.

Freshening up his attack following the tireless efforts of exciting prospects Rogic and Ibini, Arnold brought on the experience of Daniel McBreen and Troy Hearfield. And, while the yellow and navy continued to look threatening in their search for what could have been a crucial away goal, Brisbane would ultimately score a second through Paartalu.

Breaking down the left side, the dangerous Broich cut the ball back for the onrushing former Gretna FC player Paartalu, who slid the ball past Ryan from the top of the box in the 86th minute.

“We had a wonderful chance for one-one that could have turned the game,” Arnold added.

“That-s the difference, they took their chances.”

“It was their night tonight.”

Arnold also used the post match press conference as an opportunity to implore the Central Coast public to make Bluetongue Stadium a cauldron of yellow and navy support next Sunday.

Knowing the difference a packed, partisan home crowd can make, Arnold said: “All Central Coast people, don-t stay home and watch it on TV. Come and watch it at the ground, support the boys.”

Match Details Brisbane Roar 2 (Henrique 8-, Paartalu 86-) Central Coast Mariners 0

Brisbane Roar: 1. Michael THEOKLITOS, 2. Matthew SMITH, 3. Shane STEFANUTTO, 5. Ivan FRANJIC, 6. Erik PAARTALU, 7. Besart BERISHA, 8. Massimo MURDOCCA (18. Luke BRATTAN 63-), 10. HENRIQUE (24. Nick FITZGERALD 63-), 16. Mohamed ADNAN, 17. Mitch NICHOLS, 22. Thomas BROICH

Subs not Used: 4. Matthew JURMAN, 19. Jack HINGERT, 20. Andrew REDMAYNE (Gk)

Yellow Cards: Henrique, Smith

Red Cards: None

Central Coast Mariners: 1. Mathew RYAN (Gk), 3. Joshua ROSE, 4. Pedj BOJIC, 6. Patrick ZWAANSWIJK, 7. John HUTCHINSON, 9. Bernie IBINI (14. Troy HEARFIELD 75-), 11. Oliver BOZANIC, 14. Michael MCGLINCHEY, 17. Tomas ROGIC (2. Daniel MCBREEN 66-), 18. Alex WILKINSON (C), 22. Mustafa AMINI (23. Adam KWASNIK 82-)

Subs not Used: 20. Justin PASFIELD (Gk), 16. Trent SAINSBURY

Yellow Cards: Rose, Wilkinson, Hutchinson, Zwaanswijk

Red Cards: None

Referee: Strebre DELOVSKI

Crowd: 15,081