Mariners make it two from two in Canberra

The Central Coast Mariners have completed a perfect road trip record in the ACT, following a 4-1 victory over Premier League side Belconnen United on a typically cold winter’s night in the nation’s capital.

The Central Coast Mariners have completed a perfect road trip record in the ACT, following a 4-1 victory over Premier League side Belconnen United on a typically cold winter-s night in the nation-s capital.

"It was a slick performance and I thought our football in patches was again very good," said Head Coach Graham Arnold.

After the attacking start to Monday-s 4-nil win over Canberra FC, it was a more conservative Mariners mindset to start the clash at McKellar, as Graham Arnold tinkered with his starting lineup, making eight changes from the successful eleven two nights ago.

Opportunities were few and far between in the opening exchanges, Marc Warren overcooking a ball in from the left and a couple of half chances to 17-year-old Mustafa Amini the pick of the early action.

Oliver Bozanic showed some fast footwork before forcing Rohan Shepherd into his first real save of the match on 27 minutes, but it was a foot injury to Mariners- right-back Pedj Bojic which proved the catalyst to a pulsating period in the middle of the opening half.

Brad Porter was introduced and had an immediate impact, whipping in a ball from the right with his very first touch to find Matt Simon lurking at the back post to head home and open the scoring.

Within two minutes Porter had one of his own, but he may not have been expecting it, as his ball into the penalty area evaded everyone, including Shephard in the Blue Devils- goal, to nestle in the back of the net.

And it was three goals in three minutes as Warren sent a ball in from the left, for Adam Kwasnik to calmly but spectacularly backheel first time inside the near post.

Order was somewhat restored after the whirlwind couple of minutes but the Mariners did everything but score as the clock wound down.

Porter was the man again with the delivery, this time from a corner, and Cam Reinhardt had to clear an Alex Wilkinson header off the line before Shephard did well to parry Simon-s rebound away for another corner.

Wilkinson seemingly couldn-t buy a goal though as his first header from the resultant corner was cleared off the line by both Taylor Beaton and Reinhardt, while the Mariners- skipper saw the scraps brilliantly tipped over by the Belconnen ‘keeper.

It was at the other end that the next piece of action would occur, as Tai Smith went on a mazy run through the middle, before the referee ruled he was brought down by Alex Wilkinson, and pointed to the spot.

Dustin Wells calmly stepped up, and while trialist, and former Mariners- ‘keeper Matthew Nash went the right way, he could do nothing to prevent the ball cannoning into the top corner, and giving the hosts a glimmer of hope heading into the break.

Daniel McBreen, introduced at half time in place of Monday-s three goal hero Adam Kwasnik, put a neat ball through for Simon, but the East Gosford junior-s right footed effort ended marginally wide.

Simon hit a 20 yard effort at the hosts replacement ‘keeper Alex Connell and an effort from Bozanic from a similar range only marginally failed to dip sufficiently enough to extend the Yellow and Navy-s advantage.

Warren played a neat one-two with McBreen but the former Perth and North Queensland marksman couldn-t convert, however it wouldn-t be long before the visitors had a fourth.

Michael McGlinchey played a lovely ball into the box after good leadup work by Warren and Matthew Lewis, and while Connell blocked Rory Feely-s initial shot, John Hutchinson was on hand to pick up the pieces and claim one of the easiest goals of his career by calmly finishing from close range.

"Yes we made eight changes, but I-m very happy, it was very promising.

"We-ve added quite a bit of depth to the squad and there is a lot of competition for places so that always breeds better performances.

"We-ve had two half sessions working on our defensive shape and the important thing is they are taking to it very easily with the narrow diamond. We have players for that system and it is always about getting the right players for that certain system," said Arnold.

Match Details

Belconnen United 1 (Wells 44-(pen)) Central Coast Mariners 4 (Simon 29-, Porter 31-, Kwasnik 32-, Hutchinson 83-)

Belconnen United: 20. Rohan SHEPHARD (GK) (1. Alex CONNELL (GK) 46-), 2. Matt VALERI (C), 3. Dustin WELLS, 4. Bernie RENE (7. Josh SHIPLEY 82-), 5. Taylor BEATON, 8. Cam REINHARDT, 9. Tai SMITH, 16. Zac MAYBURY, 17. Matt GRAYSON (15. Glen SMITH 46-), 18. Jason O-DWYER (12. Michael REEVE 29-, 18. Jason O-DWYER 46-), 19. Dave ARRANZ (12. Michael REEVE 63-, 11. Callum SMITH 84-).

Subs Not Used: Nil.

Central Coast Mariners: 20. Matthew NASH (GK), 4. Pedj BOJIC (5. Brad PORTER 28-), 7. John HUTCHINSON, 11. Oliver BOZANIC (12. Matthew LEWIS 82-), 14. Michael McGLINCHEY, 15. Marc WARREN, 17. Chris DOIG, 18. Alex WILKINSON (C) (16. Trent SAINSBURY 46-), 19. Matt SIMON (6. Rory FEELY 72-), 22. Mustafa AMINI (8. Rostyn GRIFFITHS 63-), 23. Adam KWASNIK (2. Daniel McBREEN 46-).

Subs Not Used: 21. Sam GALLAGHER.