Mariners held by Blacktown

The Central Coast Mariners have been forced to settle for their second draw against NSW Premier League opposition in as many weeks, after a physical Blacktown City battled hard to earn a 1-all draw against the Hyundai A-League side.

The Central Coast Mariners have been forced to settle for their second draw against NSW Premier League opposition in as many weeks, after a physical Blacktown City battled hard to earn a 1-all draw against the Hyundai A-League side.

In near freezing conditions at Blacktown-s Lily Homes Stadium, the Mariners warmed up early on as Adam Kwasnik whipped in a cross from the right and found Oliver Bozanic lurking on the edge of the penalty area, but his first time volley cannoned into the back of a City defender.

Nik Mrdja teed up a shot soon after and was unlucky it didn-t sneak inside the far post, but it was at the other end that the back of the net was rippling.

City right midfielder Travis Major sent a ball in and found Mariners- National Youth team striker Bernie Ibini Isei lurking at the back post, who, at well over six feet tall, rose highest to tuck the ball away past an unlucky Mathew Ryan.

The Mariners went searching for an equaliser but were luckless in their hunt, a positive of the first half though the return of Nik Mrdja, who lasted the 25 minutes Assistant Coach Phil Moss had budgeted for, in his first hitout of the new season.

Kwasnik and Bozanic were looking dangerous down each flank as the Central Coast tried to play with width but Blacktown were suffocating any attacking raids the Yellow and Navy had put together.

Kwasnik played in another good ball from the right as the half wound down and found McBreen-s head, but the former North Queensland and Perth marksman-s header was off target under heavy pressure.

It was a much brighter Mariners outfit in the second half, while Moss refrained from making any changes at the break, his half time team talk must have revved his side up, and they found a deserved equaliser for their toil.

Matthew Lewis looped a great ball in from the left to find McBreen, who outjumped his man to head home for his third goal in as many matches for the club.

A short term signing at the Mariners last season, Lachlan Cahill fired straight at Ryan as the hosts looked for a second goal, but the Mariners were looking more dangerous going forward, as both Lewis and Sam Gallagher on the left, and Pedj Bojic and Adam Kwasnik on the right were providing good balls in to the area.

Blacktown ‘keeper Justin Biega had to make a double save to block McBreen and Kwasnik but failed to get a hand on a cross from Gallagher soon after, and would have been relieved to see Kwasnik and Brady Smith both fail to take advantage.

The visitors had one final chance to steal a victory at the death as Lewis put in another good ball from the left, but Marc Warren could only direct his header at the ‘keeper, ensuring the match would finish 1-all.

"State League teams always lift against A-League teams and I know that from my experiences at Manly United," said Mariners Assistant Coach Phil Moss.

"We started well but then they got an early goal which gave them plenty of confidence, so we had to claw our way back into the match.

"In the second half we were the much better side for the first 20-25 minutes before I started making changes which upsets your fluency a little bit but I still thought we finished the stronger of the two sides, so the boys that came off the bench certainly added to the performance."

Match Details

Blacktown City1 (Ibini Isei 7-) Central Coast Mariners 1 (McBreen 60-)

Blacktown City: 20. Justin BIEGA (GK) (1. David BRADESEVIC (GK) 81-), 3. Daniel WILKINSON (2. Tyler SIMPSON 46-), 4. Mirko JURILJ (14. Adam BIDDLE 71-), 5. Luka DUKIC (6. Matt PRESSELLO 64-), 11. Mitch LONG (25. Bruno PIVATO 81-), 12. Bernie IBINI ISEI (8. Chris BEDZO 58-), 17. Joel CHIANESE (13. Lachlan CAHILL 58-), 18. Travis MAJOR (24. Matt BRENNAN 71-), 19. Tolgay OZBEY (27. Dennis JEVTIC 77-), 22. Zac CAIRNCROSS (26. George DEGENEK 77-), 23. Luke AUSTIN (15. David TALEVSKI 65-).

Subs not Used: 7. Luke ROUDENBURG.

Central Coast Mariners: 1. Mathew RYAN (GK), 2. Daniel McBREEN (4. Pedj BOJIC 74-), 3. Joshua ROSE (22. Mustafa AMINI 74-), 5. Brad PORTER, 7. John HUTCHINSON (C) (21. Sam GALLAGHER 74-), 8. Rostyn GRIFFITHS (15. Marc WARREN 58-), 9. Nik MRDJA (12. Matthew LEWIS 24-), 11. Oliver BOZANIC (18. Brady SMITH 74-), 16. Trent SAINSBURY, 17. Chris DOIG, 23. Adam KWASNIK.

Subs not Used: Nil.