Mariners draw with 'Nix in NZ

Central Coast Mariners’ unbeaten run against Wellington Phoenix in New Zealand extended to six matches on Sunday, with Phil Moss’s men securing a 1-1 draw in windy Wellington.

Central Coast Mariners- unbeaten run against Wellington Phoenix in New Zealand extended to six matches on Sunday, with Phil Moss-s men securing a 1-1 draw in windy Wellington.

Matt Simon-s first goal of the campaign put the Mariners ahead, however Costa Rican international Kenny Cunningham restored parity to the contest just before half time, his shot on the angle nestling in the back of Liam Reddy-s net.

The Mariners had a great opportunity to go back ahead in the match with just over 20 minutes remaining after Trent Sainsbury was dragged down in the box by Phoenix custodian Glen Moss. Daniel McBreen, however, sent the penalty awarded by referee Matthew Gillett over the bar.

The blustery conditions inside the venue colloquially known as the ‘Cake Tin- made playing attractive football difficult for both sides, and the opening minutes of the game saw the players struggling to maintain any sound possession.

Wellington had the first two shots of the match, however the efforts from Carlos Hernandez and Jeremy Brockie came from range and failed to trouble Mariners shot stopper Reddy.

Simon etched his name on the scoresheet in just his third start for the Club since returning from K-League Classic outfit Chunnam Dragons in the 17th minute. Attackers Mitchell Duke and Nick Fitzgerald combined to open the chance for the former East Gosford Rams player, and Simon slammed the ball past Moss clinically from just inside the box via a first time shot.

Neither side crafted many obvious chances to add to the scoring until Cunningham levelled proceedings just before the break. After turning Kiwi international Storm Roux Cunningham sent a low strike on the angle beyond Reddy.

On the hour Roux clipped a sweet pass into the box which McBreen headed wide, before Gillett pointed to the penalty spot eight minutes later following Glen Moss-s foul on Sainsbury inside the area. Unfortunately for the yellow and navy last season-s Hyundai A-League Golden Boot Winner sent the effort from 12 yards powerfully over the woodwork.

The ‘Nix appealed for a penalty with eight minutes to go, however referee Gillett correctly waved the appeals from the Wellington players and crowd away after Tyler Boyd fell untouched in the area.

The final obvious opportunity to win the game came in the 85th minute when Mariners substitute Anthony Caceres burst forward only to see his low shot from close range smothered by Glen Moss.

Mariners mentor Phil Moss was positive after the game, noting that gaining a point against the in form team of the Hyundai A-League at a “cyclonic” Westpac Stadium was a reasonable result on the road.

“The near cyclonic conditions in Wellington today made it exceptionally tough to play football,” Moss said. “I believe we actually put in an improved performance on recent weeks, especially in the first half where we controlled the majority of the play and produced some decent football. Leaving New Zealand with a point is something that many teams may struggle to do this season.”

“Our defensive structure limited Wellington to few clear cut chances throughout the match, so I was very pleased with that. If we can maintain consistency in defence over the coming rounds and remain a difficult team to beat, that will help us no end in achieving our first season target of making the Hyundai A-League Finals Series.”

“Matt Simon was outstanding tonight. Not only did he take his goal exceptionally well, he also worked tirelessly for the team. ‘Simmo- has only made four starts in the last 12 months due to the horrendous injuries he sustained while in Korea, and I believe tonight will give him the confidence he needs to return to his best and become a very important player for us in the second half of the season.”

Wellington Phoenix FC 1 (Cunningham 45-) Central Coast Mariners FC 1 (Simon 17-) Westpac Stadium, Wellington

Central Coast Mariners FC: 12. Liam REDDY (Gk), 2. Daniel MCBREEN (17. Anthony CACERES 80-), 3. Joshua ROSE, 5. Zachary ANDERSON, 7. John HUTCHINSON (C), 8. Nick MONTGOMERY, 9. Mitchell DUKE (20. Bernie IBINI 72-), 11. Nick FITZGERALD, 15. Storm ROUX, 16. Trent SAINSBURY, 19. Matt SIMON (21. Mile STERJOVSKI 79-) Substitutes not used: 1. Justin PASFIELD (Gk), 6. Brent GRIFFITHS Yellow cards: Hutchinson, Fitzgerald, Anderson, Caceres, Sainsbury Red cards: Nil

Wellington Phoenix FC: 1. Glen MOSS (Gk), 2. Manny MUSCAT, 5. Michael BOXALL, 9. Kenny CUNNINGHAM (15. Jason HICKS 72-), 10. Stein HUYSEGEMS (24. Roy KRISHNA 79-), 11. Jeremy BROCKIE (12. Tyler BOYD 58-), 13. Albert RIERA, 17. Vince LIA, 18. Ben SIGMUND, 21. Carlos HERNANDEZ, 22. Andrew DURANTE (C) Substitutes not used: 20. Lewis ITALIANO (Gk), 23. Matthew RIDENTON Yellow cards: Boxall, Sigmund Red cards: Nil

Referee: Matthew Gillett