Fortress Bluetongue survives stern test

An injury-time goal to defender Patrick Zwaanswijk sealed a thrilling 3-2 victory over the North Queensland Fury and ensured that the Mariners would farewell the original turf of Bluetongue Stadium with three crucial points.

An injury-time goal to defender Patrick Zwaanswijk sealed a thrilling 3-2 victory over the North Queensland Fury and ensured that the Mariners would farewell the original turf of Bluetongue Stadium with three crucial points.

The win sees the Mariners move up to second spot on the Hyundai A-League table, and significantly keeps the Mariners unbeaten home record intact.

As an advertisement for football the match had everything. Five different names on the score-sheet for the Mariners: Matt Simon, Patricio Perez, Patrick Zwaanswijk and for the Fury Simon Storey. The match also included a penalty, claims for another waved away, a Dyron Daal send-off and a Daniel McBreen own goal.

Mariners head coach Graham Arnold was content after the match.

“I-m very proud of the players, I think that-s the best we-ve played all year.

“I-m very happy with the result because it-s not easy to come off the bye,” Arnold said.

Though reluctant to singly out any one player Arnold made special mention of McGlinchey.

“For me I thought McGlinchey was our man of the match tonight.”

The Mariners started the match strongly defying the heavy ground conditions with a quick passing game. Star import Patricio Perez, making his home debut wasted no time demonstrating his flair to the Bluetongue faithful. In just the second minute he picked out Matt Simon with a lovely cross before having a shot himself just two minutes later.

Playing in his favoured position of striker, Simon was full of renewed energy and seemed to relish the quality of service he was getting from the Argentinean playmaker. However it was another international player, Togo representative defender Eric Akoto who produced a brilliant tackle to deny the marksman.

Mariners defender Patrick Zwaanswijk had the next chance to open the scoring when he sailed high for a header, but unfortunately for the veteran he was unable to steer it inside the post.

As is so often the case in football when one side creates numerous opportunities the other side will score against the run of play. An ineffective clearance by Josh Rose was pounced on by Simon Storey who was able to steer a shot, past the outstretched hands of Mathew Ryan. It was the first goal conceded by the teenage custodian in 325 minutes of football and he wasn-t helped by a wicked deflection that ensured Storey-s shot would find the back of the net.

The change in fortune deflated the Mariners whose attack inexplicably fell apart as they were unable to string passes together for the next ten minutes. Despite this they still managed to create a number of chances. The first fell to Michael McGlinchey who had a shot blocked by excellent keeping from Justin Pasfield. Josh Rose, desperate to make amends for his error also had a shot well saved by the Fury custodian. Compounding his frustration, McBreen was unable to capitlise on the rebound.

McGlinchey who was rediscovering the form that saw him selected in the New Zealand squad for the 2010 FIFA World Cup was in everything, provided a cross for Simon that should have seen the Mariners draw level. Unfortunately for both players Fury defender Mark Hughes was more than equal to the task and he comfortably headed the ball away.

The final chance of the first half fell to captain Alex Wilkinson who made an impressive run forward but was unable to capitlise on the space created. The Fury went into the break with a deserved 1-nil lead.

Graham Arnold was clearly not impressed with the efforts of his side and whatever he said to his charges at half-time shook them from their temporary slumber.

Oliver Bozanic who had a quiet first-half after returning from international duty found space down the left flank and provided one of those pin-point crosses that he has made his trademark. Unfortunately for the young midfielder Daniel McBreen was unable to get on the end of it.

The Mariners didn-t have to wait long for another chance at the tiring North Queensland defence. Just two minutes later Michael McGlinchey flew down the opposite wing and provided a cross to Perez who was lurking in the box. The Argentinean dynamo was able to hit the ball first time but was denied by an outstanding save from Pasfield. The move could have ended there but an alert Simon was on hand to drive home the ball for his second goal of the season.

A Mariners counter-attack in the 56th minute saw Perez released down the right edge with the time and space to release McBreen. In the process of bringing the ball down in the box the striker was fouled by Brett Studman who was only on the field for less than a minute, leaving referee Kurt Ams little choice but to point to the penalty spot.

The decision brought the crowd to its feet as Perez for the second time this season strode to the penalty box. And for the second time the result was the same as he calmly slotted the penalty. The Mariners rushed to congratulate their teammate and McBreen, the master of the celebration, tried to convince strength and conditioning coach Andrew Clarke he had done his weights quota for the week by lifting the hero of the moment high into the air.

Matt Simon had two chances to put the game beyond doubt in quick succession. In the first instance he blasted wide, and in the second he was denied by a diving Pasfield after being released by a gem of a Perez pass.

As is so often the case this season the Mariners lack of ruthlessness in front of goal almost proved their undoing. McBreen was desperate to score against his former club which he duly did, just not in the way he intended. A free-kick from outside the box inadvertently found McBreen-s head and Mat Ryan could only watch in horror as the Fury drew level.

The Mariners were stunned and the match descended into a hectic few minutes as Fury cult-figure Dyrone Dyaal was marched for a second bookable offence. Desperate to get the three points the Mariners created a number of chances for both Perez and McBreen.

Mat Ryan who really could not be blamed for either of the Fury-s two goals redeemed himself completely in the dying minutes of the match pulling off two spectacular one-handed saves to deny former Umina junior Chris Payne. The second of which, in the 89th minute inspired his teammates for what was to follow in injury time.

The match seemed destined for a draw but the Mariners lifted in injury time. Sustained pressure resulted in several corners and eventually a tired North Queensland defence cracked. A McGlinchey cross found the flying Dutchman Zwaanswijk who headed home to give the Mariners a memorable win.

Mariners Memberships for the Hyundai A-League 2010/11 season are still available online at www.ccmariners.com.au or by phoning 1300 767 442.

Match Details

Central Coast Mariners 3 (Simon 47', Perez 57'P, Zwaanswijk 90+2') North Queensland Fury 2 (Storey 12', McBreen 78'OG)

Central Coast Mariners: 20. Mathew RYAN (gk), 2. Daniel McBREEN, 3. Joshua ROSE (5. Brad PORTER 59-), 4. Pedj BOJIC, 6. Patrick ZWAANSWIJK, 8. Rostyn GRIFFITHS, 10. Patricio PEREZ (7. John HUTCHINSON 90+4'), 11. Oliver BOZANIC, 14. Michael McGLINCHEY, 18. Alex WILKINSON, 19. Matt SIMON (23. Adam KWASNIK 80').

Subs Not Used: 30. Paul HENDERSON (gk).

Yellow Cards: McBreen 87- Red Cards: None

North Queensland Fury: 1. Justin PASFIELD (gk), 2. Jack HINGERT, (3. Brad McDONALD 71-) 4. Eric AKOTO, (18. Brett STUDMAN 54-) 5. Mark HUGHES, 7. Gareth EDDS (c), 9. Eugene SSEPPUYA, (15. Chris PAYNE 59-) 10. Dyron DAAL, 11. David WILLIAMS, 14. Chris GROSSMAN, 16. Simon STOREY,19. Isaka CERNAK.

Subs Not Used: 28. Sebastian USAI (gk). .

Yellow Cards: Akoto 22-, Edds 85- Red Cards: Daal 80-

Referee: Kurt AMS Crowd: 6,656 at Bluetongue Stadium, Gosford.