Injury time heartbreak for Mariners

A Matt McKay volley a minute into second half stoppage time has consigned the Central Coast Mariners to their third defeat in a row, but for the second time in as many weeks at Bluetongue Stadium, the result – this time 3-2 in favour of Brisbane – hasn’t reflected the performance of the home side.

A Matt McKay volley a minute into second half stoppage time has consigned the Central Coast Mariners to their third defeat in a row, but for the second time in as many weeks at Bluetongue Stadium, the result - this time 3-2 in favour of Brisbane - hasn-t reflected the performance of the home side.

"We thought we could get back into it," said Mariners- Football Manager Lawrie McKinna.

"We were unlucky not to be equal at half time, and it was only a matter of time before we equalized. When we equalized we had chances to go on and win the game, but to get beaten in the last two minutes is sickening.

"Football is a hard game sometimes."

Three matches without a win meant the Mariners- were desperate for three points, while the Roar were high on confidence coming off the back of Wednesday-s win over North Queensland, and that confidence carried over into the early parts of this clash, as the visitors went ahead on 10 minutes.

Adam Sarota delivered a good cross in from the right, and after missing everyone on the edge of the area ended at Tommy Oar-s feet, the 18-year-old turning inside Brad Porter to clinically slot a curling effort inside the back post, and leave Danny Vukovic with no chance.

Nigel Boogaard headed a Nicky Travis corner over the bar as the hosts went searching for an immediate equaliser, while Porter had a fierce, low drive deflected clear by the last line of the Roar-s defence.

Andrew Clark sent a long range effort wide on 16 minutes, while Matt Simon had a gilt edged opportunity to square the ledger soon after.

Clark played a long ball up the right flank for Adam Kwasnik who took the ball into the area and squared for Simon, but the Qantas Socceroo striker cleared the bar from close range, under heavy pressure from a Brisbane defender.

The Roar capitalized fully on the miss, as less than 60 seconds later Sergio Van Dijk latched on to a Henrique cross to expertly control, turn, and shoot from 25 yards, the outcome, his third goal in four days.

Griffin McMaster knew little of a Matthew Lewis header on the half hour, somehow nestling in his hands after trying to prevent the teenager heading home a cross in from Kwasnik.

Craig Moore wouldn-t want to watch the replay of the Mariners first goal any time soon, as he scuffed a pass-back, gifting Nicky Travis possession, and an easy finish past McMaster.

Travis could have had a second soon after, only to be correctly ruled offside after seemingly being released down the right by Matt Simon.

In a frenetic period following, the Roar struggled to clear a cross from Brad Porter, and after Adam Kwasnik-s first time effort was half cleared, Travis then pulled the trigger, and while his shot took a significant deflection before finishing marginally to the wrong side of the post, the Roar somehow avoided conceding a corner.

Craig Moore headed over the bar after a corner in from the right from Oar to kick-start the second half, but despite the Roar having the first opening, it was to be a 45 minute period dominated largely by the team in Yellow and Navy.

Pedj Bojic latched on to a corner from Travis just after the hour while soon after, Matthew Lewis took the ball into the box from the left and slid it across the face of goal, Matt McKay-s scuffed clearance fell to Kwasnik, who fired over from close range.

Dylan Macallister and Ahmad Elrich were introduced midway through the half and Elrich fed a delightful ball for Andrew Clark, unfortunately for the Mariners- veteran, McMaster sensed the danger, and raced out to smother at Clark-s feet.

Simon did well to control a ball from Elrich on 76 minutes, and sent a pinpoint ball across to Macallister, who won a corner after trying his luck from the right edge of the box.

Travis floated in the set piece where Alex Wilkinson won the header at the back post, his ball back into the mix was headed home by Macallister, who deservedly got the hosts back on level terms.

Seconds later, with the Mariners pressing for a third, Nigel Boogaard kept a swinging corner in play at the back post, and laid it off for Wilkinson, who watched on as Oar cleared his shot off the line.

Michael McGlinchey couldn-t connect with a ball in from Simon as the Central Coast kept attacking, but despite their best efforts, the night would ultimately end in heartbreak for Lawrie McKinna-s men.

After winning a corner in the right channel, Michael Zullo floated the ball into the box, where it was cleared only as far as McKay, who was lurking on the edge of the penalty area, and he fired home first time, to seal a dramatic three points for the Roar, but inflict more pain for the Mariners.

McKinna was left to rue more good chances in front of goal.

"Hitting the target would have been a big plus. Going back a few weeks ago we were getting one or two chances and taking them. Now we-re getting more chances and not taking them," said McKinna.

And the manager has hinted there may be a different looking starting eleven as it looks to rebound this Wednesday against Sydney FC.

"Nik Mrdja is close to a start, he got two in the Youth League, Dylan came on and done well, definitely. We have a hard game on Wednesday so we have to go there confident of getting three points, because we have coughed up another three at home.

"At the beginning of the season we were defending as a unit, everybody was anticipating, everybody was working, now that little split second of hesitation is costing us.

"We can-t dwell on it, we have to pick ourselves up, we have a game on Wednesday and I-m confident we can go on and win there," said McKinna.

Mariners- skipper Alex Wilkinson admits the team started too slowly.

"The first 20 minutes has cost us the game, we started slowly, copped two goals, but as Lawrie said we did well to get back in it. The second half was pretty good, we knocked the ball around well, created a few chances and I was pretty confident we could go on and win the game, but the old sucker punch at the end hurts a lot.

"I suppose the positive is we-ve got a game on Wednesday to pick ourselves up, must win, down in Sydney," Wilkinson said.

The Mariners- next home match of the Hyundai A-League 2009/10 season will be the New Years Eve extravaganza against Wellington Phoenix on Thursday, 31 December. Kick-off is at 6:00pm. Tickets are available online here or by phoning 132 849.

Mariners Four Match Christmas Packs are available online by clicking here

Match Details

Central Coast Mariners 20. Danny VUKOVIC (GK), 4. Pedj BOJIC, 5. Brad PORTER, 12. Matthew LEWIS (21. Ahmad ELRICH 68-), 14. Michael McGLINCHEY, 15. Andrew CLARK, 16. Nigel BOOGAARD, 18. Alex WILKINSON (c), 19. Matt SIMON, 22. Nicky TRAVIS, 23. Adam KWASNIK (11. Dylan MACALLISTER 66-).

Unused Subs 1. Andrew REDMAYNE (GK), 3. Shane HUKE.

Yellow Cards Bojic 90- Red Cards None Goals Travis 34-, Macallister 76-

Brisbane Roar 20. Griffin MCMASTER (GK), 3. Luke DEVERE (5. Josh McCLOUGHAN 45-), 4. Craig MOORE (C), 7. Michael ZULLO, 8. Massimo MURDOCCA, 9. Sergio VAN DIJK, 13. HENRIQUE (17. Mitch NICHOLS 75-), 14. Adam SAROTA, 15. Matt McKAY, 21. Tommy OAR (23. Tim SMITS 86-), 22. Ivan FRANJIC.

Unused Subs 1. Matt HAM (GK).

Yellow Cards McKay 47- Red Cards None Goals Oar 10-, Van Dijk 22-, McKay 90+1-

Referee Alan MILLINER Crowd 5,684