Honours even in Bluetongue Battle

An unbeaten start at Bluetongue Stadium this campaign has continued for the Central Coast Mariners, despite the frustration of being unable to overcome a resolute Melbourne Victory side this evening.

An unbeaten start at Bluetongue Stadium this campaign has continued for the Central Coast Mariners, despite the frustration of being unable to overcome a resolute Melbourne Victory side this evening. Both teams had chances to break the deadlock in what was an end-to-end Week 6 Hyundai A-League encounter, but ultimately shared the points in a nil-all draw.

The early evening kick-off time clearly suited the Mariners as they began the match with plenty of energy and a desire to showcase their slick passing game. It was an up-tempo performance from the home side, particularly in the early exchanges in the middle third as they attempted to take the match to the visitors from Melbourne.

It was only a matter of time before a warning shot was fired, and in the 9th minute it came from the boot of Bernie Ibini. Full of confidence after netting goals in successive matches, the talented marksman showed that he possesses not only a clinical finish, but deft footwork as well as he stood up the experienced Billy Celeski before getting a shot away.

At the other end of the park, some familiar foes combined to create the visitor-s first half-chance. Archie Thompson who has made a habit of netting goals at the Mariner-s fortress, combined with a former yellow and navy stalwart in Tom Pondeljak but the chance came to nothing as the attempted shot was pushed wide.

The match was largely played in the midfield for the much of the opening half, as both sides struggled to deliver possession to their strikers. Ultimately it was the men tasked with patrolling the middle third who created the game-s most dramatic moment in the 29th minute.

Utilising his speed off the mark, and a classy show of skill Michael McGlinchey was able to create enough space for himself to unleash a fierce drive towards Melbourne-s goal. It was a stinging shot that had custodian Lawrence Thomas well-beaten, but defender Rodrigo Vargas was able to throw his body at the ball and clear it off the line. The ball travelled as far as Daniel McBreen who was lurking for just such an opportunity in his 100th competitive game in Australia. McBreen headed the ball back towards the goal where it collided with the crossbar and dropped straight down.

Under enormous pressure referee Strebre Delovski elected not to award a goal, and praise must be given for his decisive stance. Replays were inconclusive, but there was enough evidence to suggest that the ball didn-t cross the line. It was one of those calls in football that could have gone either way, and the Mariners can be credited for the way they took the decision on the chin and continued to play football.

After both scoring in successive matches, and in identical score-lines, the partnership between Ibini and Matt Simon is developing nicely. Ibini showed great poise to deliver a well-timed cross to Simon, which won a corner, and highlighting the culture that makes the club successful, Simon acknowledged his younger teammate.

Melbourne-s best chance of the match occurred in the shadows of half-time. Matthew Kemp managed to evade his marker, and was in the process of rounding Mathew Ryan but was thwarted by an outstanding challenge from Alex Wilkinson that ensured that honours would be even at the break.

The Mariners began the second half with the same purpose as the first. Oliver Bozanic was the first to try his luck with a sizzling drive from distance that was well saved by Thomas, who gave a good account of himself in his first Hyundai A-League start to deny the Mariners on several occasions.

Patrick Zwaanswijk turned out another composed performance in defence, but it was his contribution further up the park that almost led to the opening goal for the hosts. The Dutch defender dispossessed Victory, and quickly fed the ball to Rose who-s resulting cross-cum-shot almost sneaked in at the far post in the 56th minute.

The Mariners continued to push forward in the closing minutes in a desperate search for that elusive goal. McBreen and Pedj Bojic were unable to get their headers on target, while Troy Hearfield went desperately close shortly before fulltime.

The Mariners can take heart from the fact they controlled the match for sustained periods, and despite the result can look forward to taking on Sydney FC next Saturday night.

After the game Mariners Head Coach Graham Arnold said he was pleased with the effort of his players, however bemoaned their inability to take full advantages of the numerous chances they crafted in the final third.

“I felt that any other night it could have been a much better scoreline for us,” Arnold said.

“For us to be successful we have to be more ruthless in front of goal, and that is what I just said to the boys”.

“We had enough chances to win five games.”

Arnold praised his side for restricting a talented Melbourne Victory outfit to only a few half-chances throughout the game.

“I thought overall that it was a good performance. Defensively we restricted them to basically nothing. Football wise, I thought we moved the ball around real well.”

Match Details Central Coast Mariners 0 Melbourne Victory 0

Central Coast Mariners: 1. Mathew RYAN (GK), 2. Daniel McBREEN, 3. Joshua ROSE, 4. Pedj BOJIC, 6. Patrick ZWAANSWIJK, 8. Rostyn GRIFFITHS, 9. Bernie IBINI (22. Mustafa AMINI 77-), 11. Oliver BOZANIC, 14. Michael McGLINCHEY, 18. Alex WILKINSON (C), 19. Matt SIMON (12. Troy HEARFIELD 70-)

Subs not Used: 20. Justin PASFIELD (GK), 7. John HUTCHINSON

Yellow Cards: Bojic 13-, Griffiths 62- Red Cards: None

Melbourne Victory: 20. Lawrence THOMAS (GK), 3. FABIO, 5. Leigh BROXHAM, 7. Matthew KEMP, 10. Archie THOMPSON, 11. Marco ROJAS (4. Petar FRANJIC 88-), 12. Rodrigo VARGAS, 14. Billy CELESKI (17. James JEGGO 75-), 15. Tomislav PONDELJAK, 18. Daniel ALLSOPP (9. Jean Carlos SOLORZANO 82-), 23. Adrian LEIJER (C)

Subs not Used: 28. Zaim ZENELI (GK)

Yellow Cards: Thompson 45-, Kemp 53- Red Cards: None

Referee: Strebre DELOVSKI Crowd: 10,521 at Bluetongue Stadium, Gosford