Last gasp heartbreak for Mariners

The Central Coast Mariners have come away from tonight’s Hyundai A-League clash against the table topping Melbourne Victory at Bluetongue Stadium with a point to show for their efforts, but lamenting a heartbreaking last gasp strike that saw proceedings finish 2-2.

The Central Coast Mariners have come away from tonight-s Hyundai A-League clash against the table topping Melbourne Victory at Bluetongue Stadium with a point to show for their efforts, but lamenting a heartbreaking last gasp strike that saw proceedings finish 2-2.

Doubles from Mariners standout Matt Simon and Melbourne lynchpin Archie Thompson were the highlights of another gripping Hyundai A-League showcase at the Mariners- picturesque bayside home, where Victory goalkeeper Michael Theoklitos was also shown a straight red card with a little under an hour played.

The home debut of Mariners guest player Mark Bosnich was a virtual sideshow in comparison to ninety absorbing minutes that delivered everything for the 9,010 yellow clad faithful on hand other than the three competitions points they so craved and perhaps deserved.

Indeed, were it not for Thompson-s intervention in the final seconds of second half stoppage time, the Mariners would have further pressed their claims for top spot in the Hyundai A-League with five rounds played, but were ultimately forced to settle for a point that was of scant consolation come the full time whistle.

"You have to play until the last minute, against a team like Melbourne, it doesn-t matter if they have nine men, ten men or eleven men, you can-t take your foot off the pedal," said Mariners Football Manager Lawrie McKinna after the match.

"With twenty seconds to go we just switched off and you can-t do that.

"Before the game, we thought that we had a lot of boys out and a point would be good against the table topping team, but we believed we could get three and going away with one is a bit hard to take."

Matches between the Mariners and the Victory have traditionally delivered action by way of goals, send offs and unique sporting drama and, indeed, this evening was no different.

Simon-s breakthrough Hyundai A-League goal at Bluetongue Stadium came courtesy of a superbly weighted Bradley Porter cross from deep that Simon did well to control and then slide past Victory ‘keeper Theoklitos.

The match opener was the culmination of a frantic early period that saw both sides trade blows with frequency and declare their attacking intent from the outset.

Such focus on attack was what brought about the Victory-s equaliser soon after Simon-s strike, with Qantas Socceroo and Melbourne marquee Thompson waltzing through the Mariners backline and neatly dispatching past Mariners guest player Bosnich.

While Bosnich was far from busy, the Australian football icon was called upon to make a pair of telling stops either side of the break, on both occasions in response to efforts from Danny Allsopp.

Understandably, the dismissal of Theoklitos shortly into the second half for stomping changed the dynamic of the match.

Melbourne-s prime creative outlet, Costa Rican international Carlos Hernandez, was immediately withdrawn for reserve goalkeeper Mitchell Langerak, thus commencing a sustained period of domination from the home side.

At the heart of the Mariners- attacking advances was former Victory player Adrian Caceres, who appeared hell bent on netting against his former club and was largely responsible for a glut of chances on goal for the yellow and navy.

Not least, Caceres looked to have done enough to net the Mariners their match winner, only to have his goal bound shot unwittingly deflected to safety by team-mate Sasho Petrovski.

It would be first half hero Simon that looked to have secured the points for the Mariners when heading home another pinpoint delivery from Porter with eight minutes to play, only for Thompson to again strike a blow with what was virtually the final kick of the game.

"Even though we got a point it feels like a loss," said McKinna

"We just need to take the positives out of that - take that into the game against Perth next week and try to get three points."

The Mariners are back at Bluetongue Stadium on Friday, 26 September, when they continue their Hyundai A-League 2008/09 campaign against the Perth Glory in Round 6. Kick off is at 8pm.

The Mariners- National Youth League team will make its first appearance in the new elite competition for Australia-s best young players before the main game, also against the Perth Glory. Kick off is at 5.15pm.

Tickets for this match are on sale from Ticketek outlets, from the Ticketek website - www.ticketek.com.au, or via phone on 132 849.

Mariners Memberships for the Hyundai A-League 2008/09 season are now on sale at www.ccmariners.com.au.

Match Details

Central Coast Mariners 40. Mark Bosnich (gk), 4. Pedj Bojic, 5. Bradley Porter, 7. John Hutchinson, 10. Adrian Caceres (6. David D-Apuzzo 89-), 16. Nigel Boogaard, 17. Matthew Osman, 18. Alex Wilkinson, 19. Matt Simon, 22. Sasho Petrovski (11. Dylan Macallister 77-), 23. Mile Jedinak

Unused Subs 13. Paul O-Grady, 30. Andrew Redmayne (gk)

Yellow Cards None Red Cards None Goals Simon 11-, 82-

Melbourne Victory 1. Michael Theoklitos (gk), 2. Kevin Muscat, 3. Michael Thwaite, 7. Matthew Kemp, 9. Danny Allsopp (8. Grant Brebner 79-), 10. Archie Thompson, 12. Rodrigo Vargas, 14. Billy Celeski, 16. Carlos Hernandez (20. Mitchell Langerak (gk) 57-), 17. Jose Luis Lopez, 19. Evan Berger (15. Tom Pondeljak 46-)

Unused Subs 5. Sebastian Ryall

Yellow Cards Kemp 71- Red Cards Theoklitos 53- Goals Thompson 15-, 90-+4

Referee Peter Green Crowd 9,010