Mariners come up short in bid for Glory

The Central Coast Mariners hopes of a playoffs spot in the Hyundai A-League 2009/10 season have been extinguished, after a heartbreaking afternoon at ME Bank Stadium ended in a 3-1 loss at the hands of finals bound Perth Glory.

The Central Coast Mariners hopes of a playoffs spot in the Hyundai A-League 2009/10 season have been extinguished, after a heartbreaking afternoon at ME Bank Stadium ended in a 3-1 loss at the hands of finals bound Perth Glory.

If there was one positive to come out of the clash, it was that the man to come away with a double inside the opening 15 minutes, Daniel McBreen, will be in the Mariners stable next season, something which the club will now be focusing on, after qualifying for the top six became mathematically impossible.

Michael McGlinchey was handed a first start in four weeks and Mariners National Youth League starlet Mitchell Mallia became the youngest player to ever don the Yellow and Navy when he entered the fray late in the match as the 54th Mariner at 17 years, 10 months and 9 days old, but despite a mini shake-up, the Central Coast was left to rue a first half which saw McBreen strike in the first and 13th minutes, and Andrija Jukic add a third in stoppage time.

"I could come out and say the boys looked flat, they looked tired, they looked under pressure but that wasn-t the case," said Mariners Football Manager Lawrie McKinna.

"The boys were up for the game, they boys knew we had to go out and win it and we honestly felt we could go out and win that game today, even after the first 50 seconds we still felt we were in there.

"You can prepare all you want, you can have everyone looking good on a whiteboard but you can-t make basic mistakes like that. We-ve gone from having the best defensive record in the league to copping goals that are just not good enough."

With their season on the line, the afternoon couldn-t have started any worse for the Central Coast, with Chris Doig losing out to McBreen 25 yards out from goal, allowing the big striker to calmly slot home past Danny Vukovic.

Pedj Bojic and Matt Simon both fired salvos from the edge of the area as the Yellow and Navy searched for a swift reply, but McBreen would break the hearts of the small traveling support and the Mariners fans watching on back on the east coast with his second of the afternoon on 13 minutes.

Scott Neville took the ball to the byline and was able to effectively negotiate the challenge of Andrew Clark, before sliding the ball across the face of goal and to the feet of McBreen, who calmly finished from six yards.

The visitors already tough task of coming away from ME Bank Stadium with the vital three points had become significantly more difficult, and the Glory were buoyant on the back of their two goal buffer, dominating the midfield as they sought to turn the screws.

Alex Wilkinson has just one Hyundai A-League goal to his name, and it came against this opposition earlier this season, he thought he had doubled his career tally on 25 minutes when he latched on to a John Hutchinson corner, but watched Perth-s replacement goalkeeper Aleks Vrteski, deputizing for the injured Tando Velaphi, stick his arm out and get a crucial hand to the Mariners- skipper-s goalbound header.

Pedj Bojic sent a 30-yard free kick whistling agonizingly past the left upright on 36 minutes but chances for McKinna-s men were few and far between in the opening stanza.

Conversely, the hosts were enjoying an afternoon to remember, as a corner in first half injury time reached Andy Todd on the edge of the area, and his shot was flicked on by Andrija Jukic and past Vukovic, to give Dave Mitchell-s side a 3-nil buffer to take into the dressing rooms.

Adam Kwasnik was introduced at the break for Andrew Clark as McKinna looked to up the ante in attack, and the move paid off within four minutes, as Nik Mrdja headed down a cross in from Brad Porter, and while Vrteski got his hand to it, Kwasnik was Johnny on the spot to tap the loose ball home and give the Mariners some hope.

On 55 minutes, Kwasnik thought he had the side-s second, but referee Gerard Parsons ruled Mrdja had fouled Chris Coyne as he won a header in the leadup.

Nicky Travi was introduced on the hour and his first contribution nearly resulted in the ultimate prize, as he unleashed a powerful effort from 25 yards, forcing Vrteski into a full stretch dive to parry around the post.

Scott Neville was busy around the edge of the box for the hosts, firing at Vukovic before sending a dangerous ball floating in for McBreen, who headed into the arms of the Mariners custodian.

Michael McGlinchey fired over the bar after Adam Kwasnik was allowed to cut a path into the box and lay the ball off for the diminutive New Zealand international.

Mrdja saw two headers late on sail agonizingly wide, and although the Coast threw everything at their opponents in the final stages, they would ultimately go unrewarded, as they watched the flickering embers of their playoff hopes turn to ash.

"It-s devastating. Disappointing doesn-t sum it up," said Mariners midfielder John Hutchinson.

"We worked so hard through the season and pre-season and now we reflect on it and know we-ve got two or three months of training but two games left and the season-s over for us, so we have to keep going to training and look forward to next season.

"It-s tough but I don-t think we deserve to be there (in the finals) after the last ten weeks and the players have to stand up and take responsibility for what has happened in the last ten weeks.

"We started off so well and I think at one stage we were second or third on the ladder, and now to be fighting it out for the wooden spoon is horrible really.

"The squad of 20 or 21 players need to raise our hands and say it was our fault," said Hutchinson.

The Mariners squad now has the 2010/11 season to look forward to, and with the performance of addition Daniel McBreen, albeit for today-s opponent, McKinna is confident the future looks bright.

"Looks like a good signing. He scored two good players and he-s been a good player (for Perth). He was a good player at Fury, he was always hard for us to handle, and he knows where the goal is.

"He works very hard and I think Mitch (Perth coach David Mitchell) has done very well in picking him up for the run into the finals. I-m sure he-ll play a key part in the finals campaign for the Glory.

"If Daniel had gone out and not put in 100% effort I would have been very disappointed in the boy, because the reason we have signed him is because he-s got good character, he-s a good worker, and to me that-s pleasing he-s gone out there, although it-s disappointing for us he scored two crucial goals, but he went out there with professionalism, and we know what to expect when he comes to us next year."

The Mariners- final home match of the Hyundai A-League 2009/10 season will be against Newcastle Jets on Saturday, 6 February. Kick-off is at 6:00pm. Tickets are available online here or by phoning 132 849.

Match Details

Central Coast Mariners 20. Danny VUKOVIC (GK), 2. Matthew CROWELL, 4. Pedj BOJIC, 5. Brad PORTER, 7. John HUTCHINSON (22. Nicky TRAVIS 59-), 9. Nik MRDJA, 14. Michael McGLINCHEY (25. Mitchell MALLIA 81-), 15. Andrew CLARK (23. Adam KWASNIK 46-), 17. Chris DOIG, 18. Alex WILKINSON (c), 19. Matt SIMON.

Unused Subs 1. Andrew REDMAYNE (GK).

Yellow Cards Bojic 90+4- Red Cards None Goals Kwasnik 49-

Perth Glory 20. Aleks VRTESKI (GK), 2. Daniel McBREEN (5. Jamie HARNWELL 78-), 3. Jamie COYNE, 4. Andy TODD, 6. Chris COYNE (C), 12. Scott NEVILLE, 14. Steven McGARRY, 16. Adriano PELLEGRINO, 17. Todd HOWARTH (13. Scott BULLOCH 62-), 19. Naum SEKULOVSKI, 23. Andrija JUKIC (10. Wayne SHROJ 89-).

Unused Subs 30. Alex PEARSON (GK).

Yellow Cards Coyne 52-, Todd 74-, Harnwell 89- Red Cards None Goals McBreen 1-, 13-, Jukic 45+1-

Referee Gerard PARSONS Crowd 8,160