A gutsy Central Coast Mariners played out a narrow 2-1 loss away from home against Melbourne City despite only having 10 men on the pitch for 70 minutes.
Melbourne City FC 2 (Cahill 3’ & 39’) Central Coast Mariners 1 (O’Donovan 9’)
The Run Down
It was an uphill battle from the get go for the Mariners who arrived to AAMI Park late due to Melbourne traffic but that didn’t slow down the opening 10 minutes of play that looked certain to set the scene for an entertaining affair in Melbourne.
Kicking off in an electric fashion Tim Cahill and Roy O’Donovan both bagged goals in the opening 10 minutes of play but momentum was unnecessarily halted for both sides when the Mariners’ Irishman was shown red. The referee controversially deemed that O’Donovan’s hand caught the head of Jakobsen which would result in the Mariners playing 70 minutes with 10 men and killed all the excitement generated in the opening stages.
The opening 10 minutes had everything that included a sharp save from Paul Izzo and a follow up combination between Nick Montgomery & O’Donovan that almost saw the Yellow & Navy take a quick-fire lead.
The red card wouldn’t deter the travelling team’s fighting spirit though and that was evident when Fabio Ferreira was on the attack moments later on the right wing and found himself in the box only to be stopped by City’s Osama Malik.
With gameplay slowing considerably since O’Donovan’s exit, the Mariners continued to work across the park despite being a man down and almost took the lead in the 34th minute when Pain combined with Scott Galloway but the left back’s shot flew into the side netting.
City capitalised on their one-man advantage through Cahill in the 39th minute which gave City a 2-1 lead going into the break.
The second half continued as the first half ended with very few chances prevailing for either side in the opening 20 minutes.
The Mariners created danger at City’s end through swift ball play and counterattacking forays but the star of the show for the Mariners was at the other end of the pitch in Paul Izzo.
Time and time again, the 22-year-old gloveman stood tall and stopped everything that was thrown his way in the second half making a number of impressive saves to earn a point in the Alex Tobin takings and keep his team in the match.
Full attention for Okon’s side now turns to next Saturday for a home clash against Perth Glory at Central Coast Stadium.
1-0 Melbourne City: Cahill 3’
The home team took the lead early from a set piece on the edge of the box and it was Brattan who found the feet of Cahill in the box. From close range, Cahill worked his shot inside the post of Paul Izzo after his perfectly timed run.
1-1 Central Coast Mariners: O’Donovan 9’
The goal started with some impressive play by Connor Pain on the left flank who found acres of space before beating the challenge of Ivan Franjic. With the 18-yard-box in his sights, Pain unselfishly slotted the ball to the feet of O’Donovan who calmly finished into the top netting to equalise.
2-1 Melbourne City: Cahill 39’
Paul Izzo made a very impressive save to deny a long range strike from Neil Kilkenny but less than a minute later he was left helpless when a cross found its way into the box and Cahill was on hand to head home.
Paolo in the press
“I think we were very courageous to go down to 10 men away against Melbourne City which is always going to be tough,” Okon said. “We fought hard, we had some half moments where we threatened but it was always going to be difficult when we gave away what I like to call a Mariners moment in the 39th minute.
“We tried to play out from the back and conceded a silly goal so from there on in it was always going to be an uphill battle.
“[The O’Donovan red card] the referee comes across and has a yellow card in his hand that means he has seen the incident and in his eyes, it’s a yellow card. I’m unsure as to why the lineseman influences him to give a straight red, it’s madness, it’s insanity. It ruined the game, irrespective of what the final result would have been.
“I hope common sense prevails here, it shouldn’t be any different [to Berisha’s overturned decision] so hopefully the referee will look at it with his linesman and say they’ve got it wrong and the Match Review Panel allow Roy to play next week.
“You know when you’re up against Timmy that it can potentially happen but how do you defend against it? He’s so good when he makes his runs, his timing is good and nine times out of 10 he hits the target.
"I would be surprised if there was someone in the stadium or at home that thought that was a red card.
“It’s disappointing because I feel like we should have gone into the sheds at half time on level terms and it probably would have changed the way the second half went but it’s disappointing to give away that second goal which really cost us.
"We were never going to comer here and sit back, that's not the way we play,
"I couldn't be more prouder of the way our boys played, the effort and we're certainly heading in the right direction but we have nothing to show for it. We're happy with the way Izzo is going, our effort tonight is what that shirt does when the players put it on.
"Our intention in the second half was never to out possess City, we needed to be compact and you need to give credit to our players.
"We start every game with an intention to win and we don't look at the ladder, tonight we were up against Melbourne City with their superstar Tim Cahill and up until the incident you wouldn't have known that CIty were in third place and we were at the bottom of the competition," Okon said.
Central Coast Mariners: 20.Paul IZZO (gk), 2.Storm ROUX, 3.Scott GALLOWAY (21.Michael NEILL 80’), 5.Harry ASCROFT, 6.Blake POWELL (13.Kwabena APPIAH 70’), 7.Fabio FERREIRA (2.Trent BUHAGIAR 61’), 8.Nick MONTGOMERY (c), 9.Roy O’DONOVAN, 11.Connor PAIN, 16.Liam ROSE, 22.Jake McGING
Substitutes not used: 1.Ivan NECEVSKI (gk), 14.Adam BERRY
Yellow cards: Ascroft 20’, Powell 26’, Ferreira 37’, Neill 90’
Red card: O’Donovan 20'
Melbourne City: 3.Josh ROSE, 5.Ivan FRANJIC, 6.Osama MALIK, 8.Neil KILKENNY, 9.Nicolas COLAZO (10.Anthony CACERES 80’),11.Bruce KAMAU (27.Fernando BRANDAN 67’), 17.Tim CAHILL (12.Nick FITZGERALD 78’), 20.Dean BOUZANIS (gk), 22.Michael JAKOBSEN, 23.Bruno FORNAROLI (c), 26.Luke BRATTAN
Subtitutes not used: 1.Thomas SORENSEN (gk), 21.Ruon TONGYIK
Yellow cards: nil
Thursday 19 January, 2017
AAMI Park, Melbourne
Melbourne City FC vs. Central Coast Mariners
Referee: Daniel Elder