Battle-ready Reds defeat Mariners

CENTRAL Coast Mariners were beaten 2-0 by a battle-ready Adelaide United outfit in their first pre-season clash of 2012 against an Hyundai A-League opponent on Wednesday evening.

CENTRAL Coast Mariners were beaten 2-0 by a battle-ready Adelaide United outfit in their first pre-season clash of 2012 against an Hyundai A-League opponent on Wednesday evening.

With their 2012 AFC Champions League quarterfinal first-leg against Uzbek giants Bunyodkor now less than a week away, John Kosmina-s men were primed for the Hindmarsh Stadium meeting having already enjoyed a series of tough tests against other A-League rivals.

With the Mariners playing their first friendly against an A-League outfit, the Reds- extra match sharpness ultimately told as left-back Cassio and striker Sergio van Dijk fired the home team to the win.

The Mariners were not without their chances in the city of churches, and it was Central Coast-s attacking midfielder Tom Rogic who tested Reds custodian Eugene Galekovic twice during the first half.

Former Qantas Socceroos striker Bruce Djite had two chances following Rogic-s opportunities, but he couldn-t manage to trouble Mariners gloveman Mathew Ryan.

Ten minutes before the half-time interval young attacker Mitchell Duke fired at Galekovic, however the respected goalkeeper was again up to the task.

John Hutchinson had a chance for Central Coast soon after the break, but again Galekovic denied Graham Arnold-s team.

Adelaide broke the deadlock via recently naturalised Australian Cassio in the 61st minute.

And, after Josh Rose had his 88th minute header well saved by the busy Galekovic, van Dijk hammered home deep into stoppage time to add gloss to the scoreline.

Mariners Head Coach Arnold said the after match that he knew Adelaide would be a tough proposition.

“Adelaide United-s priority is next week, whereas ours is on October 6 against Western Sydney,” Arnold said.

“The game tonight was more about Adelaide and us trying to help prepare them for next week. It was played in good spirits and I think both teams got a lot out of the game.”

“And I thought our boys did well. We created plenty of chances and had we taken those chances we may have won the game. We were in it right until van Dijk scored in added time.”

“For our first hit-out against a team as well drilled and prepared as Adelaide, we did well.”

Arnold also took time to wish Adelaide United the best of luck against Bunyodkor.

“I think I speak on behalf of the entire Australian football community when I wish Adelaide well in the Champions League,” he said.

“One of our goals for next season is to make the second round of the AFC Champions League, and represent Australia and the A-League with distinction in Asia.”

Central Coast Mariners next pre-season friendly is against Melbourne Victory at Knox Grammar School, Wahroonga on Sunday 16 September. Kick-off is 3pm with tickets ($10) available at the gate.

Meanwhile, an experimental Central Coast Mariners Youth team combined with triallists and players set to be signed to the Clubs- National Youth League roster for 2012/13 lost 3-1 to Canberra Rockets in Canberra on Wednesday night.