Mariners edged in hard-fought battle with Melbourne Victory
Goals to Melbourne Victory’s Ola Toivonen & Georg Niedermeier cancelled out Matt Simon’s second half penalty which saw the Victory narrowly edge the Mariners 2-1 at AAMI Park.
Melbourne Victory 2 (Toivonen 21’ & Niedermeier 79’) Central Coast Mariners 1 (Simon 53’)
The run down
In an action-packed opening 45 minutes, Ben Kennedy was the hero for the Mariners. His first serious intervention was in the 13th minute of play when he went down to his right to save a stinging effort from Keisuke Honda, before making another timely save in the 41st minute to deny James Troisi.
The first half saw both teams trade blow for blow, but it was the Victory who strung together a number of passes to cut through the Mariners’ defence and open the scoring through Toivonen.
For the away side, it was Matt Millar on the right who was causing problems for the Victory defence, whilst Andrew Hoole, Connor Pain & Matt Simon were also asking questions of their own.
The Mariners went into the break with a one-goal deficit but came out firing in the second half, determined to make up the ledger.
It was the captain, Matt Simon who provided the equaliser when he was fouled in the box by Thomas Deng and converted his own penalty.
The second half was a much more open one, with both teams creating multiple chances but it was the Victory who doubled their lead with 10 minutes to go through Niedermeier.
Alen Stajcic’s Mariners fought valiantly until the final whistle and went agonisingly close to equalising in the 87th minute. Substitute, Stephen Mallon cut in from the left and fired a rocket from distance but an acrobatic Matt Acton somehow managed to tip his effort over the crossbar.
21’ TOIVONEN GOAL (1-0): A beautifully constructed team goal from Melbourne Victory gave the home side a first half lead. Ola Toivonen was on the end of the play to make it 1-0.
53’ SIMON PENALTY (1-1): After charging into the box and being illegally pulled down by Thomas Deng, Matt Simon slammed home his penalty to make it 1-1.
79’ NIEDERMEIER GOAL (2-1): Victory broke down the right and delivered a dangerous cross that was bound for the head of Ola Toivonen. Before it could reach its destination, Niedermeier intervened to volley home from close range.
Alen Stajcic in the media
“There was a lot more endeavour there in the second half and the boys followed instructions a bit more,” Stajcic said. “I thought our first half was pretty poor and we didn’t follow the game plan, so I was disappointed with that aspect of the game but in the second half we were a lot better with and without the ball. We made it hard for them, we came back into the game well – we had a couple of injuries during the game as well which hampered us a bit.
“We need a lot better tactical discipline if we’re going to compete with a good side like that.
“It was a great strike wasn’t it [Stephen Mallon], but a terrific save as well. Off the foot I thought it was going in but the keeper got a good touch on it.
“I’ve loved it [Coaching the Mariners]. It’s been a great challenge – I don’t enjoy losing as you can probably tell. I’ve been relishing the challenge, to be able to get up and come to work every day and be challenged is definitely something that I look forward to. It’s been rewarding, it’s been tough, it’s been a massive learning curve but I’ve loved every minute of it.
"The club really wants to pick itself up. We want to provide a foundation for the club to grow on for next season, the season was gone from a finals perspective when I arrived. We’ve seen some good moments, some good team spirit, there are some quality players there but for us now we’ve got two matches left where we are playing for our lives and improvement for the team and the club.
“Whether I’m the coach or not we want to set a platform for next year. This week we signed Jack Clisby, so whether I’m coaching or not there needs to be a good strong base of players that can take the club forward and be more competitive,” Stajcic said.
Melbourne Victory: 1.Matthew ACTON (gk), 4.Keisuke HONDA, 5.Georg NIEDERMEIER, 6.Leigh BROXHAM, 9.Kosta BARBAROUSES, 10.James TROISI, 11.Ola TOIVONEN, 14.Thomas DENG (2.Storm ROUX 58’), 15.Raul BAENA, 17.James DONACHIE, 24. Elvis KAMSOBA (25.Anthony LESIOTIS 63’)
Substitutes not used: 30.Matthew SUTTON (gk), 7.Kenny ATHIU, 16.Josh HOPE
Yellow cards: Kamsoba 3’, Toivonen 31’
Central Coast Mariners: 1. Ben KENNEDY (GK), 2. Jonathan ASPROPOTAMITIS, 3. Jack CLISBY, 7. Andrew HOOLE (29. Stephen MALLON 77’), 8. Michael MCGLINCHEY (23.Mario SHABOW 23’), 11. Connor PAIN (25. Jordan MURRAY 69’), 18. Matthew MILLAR, 19. Matthew SIMON, 22. Jacob MELLING, 28. Samuel GRAHAM, 68. Jem KARACAN
Substitutes not used: 12. Adam PEARCE (GK) & 33. Lewis MILLER.
Yellow cards: nil
Sunday, 14 April 2019
AAMI Park, Melbourne
Melbourne Victory vs. Central Coast Mariners