Mariners & Melbourne all square at Knox

CENTRAL Coast Mariners fought out a 1-1 draw with Melbourne Victory in their Hyundai A-League pre-season match at Knox Grammar School, Wahroonga on Sunday afternoon.

CENTRAL Coast Mariners fought out a 1-1 draw with Melbourne Victory in their Hyundai A-League pre-season match at Knox Grammar School, Wahroonga on Sunday afternoon.

An early Patrick Zwaanswijk goal was cancelled out by Archie Thompson-s well taken effort in the 61st minute.

The Mariners dominated all aspects of the first half, applying consistent pressure all over the pitch.

The second period was evenly matched, however Thompson capitalised on his opportunity, leveling the friendly played out in front of approximately 2,000 fans.

Tom Rogic, playing in behind Troy Hearfield and Mitchell Duke, started the game brightly and was instrumental from the first minute of play. Rogic pushed an early chance just wide before forcing Tando Velaphi into a save on his second attempt, which resulted in a corner.

In trademark fashion the Mariners converted the set piece taken by Adriano Pellegrino. An in-swinging corner was tucked away neatly off the head of Zwaanswijk to give Graham Arnold-s team a third minute lead.

For the opening ten minutes the Mariners held almost all the ball and looked dangerous down the left wing through neat interplay between Josh Rose, Rogic and Mitchell Duke.

In the 18th minute there was more action for the Mariners as a precise cross by Duke from the right found the head of McGlinchey at the back post. The New Zealand international leapt above the defence, and was only denied by the outstretched arm of Velaphi.

Just five minutes later the Mariners were unlucky not to double their lead as Velaphi dropped a simple cross in front of goals. Fortunately for the former Perth custodian his teammates scrambled the ball to safety.

In the 34th minute the Mariners again nearly netted via Duke, who controlled a flat powerful ball on his chest before swiveling to fire a confident volley just over the crossbar.

The Mariners kicked off the second half unchanged, with the Victory substituting James Jeggo and Tando Velaphi for Leigh Broxham and Lawrence Thomas respectively.

And, Ange Postecoglou-s half-time words clearly work with the Victory emerging from the Knox change rooms an entirely different - and more difficult - prospect in the second stanza.

Indeed, a greater share of possession and pressure finally told for Melbourne, with Thompson - fresh off the plane from the Middle East where he scored against Lebanon in an international friendly - leveling proceedings just after the hour mark.

Picking the ball up in the Mariners 18-yard-box, Thompson delicately chipped an advancing Mathew Ryan to restore parity to the clash.

Both teams found it difficult to create many clear-cut opportunities to take the lead thereafter, however the final five minutes of the match were of great interest to the gallery.

As the game began to stretch out the two teams swapped attacks and provided end-to-end action.

However, neither side could manage to land a killer blow.

Central Coast Mariners left back Josh Rose said he felt his side was well worth their one goal lead at the half time interval.

“I think we dominated the first 45 and had a couple of chances,” Rose said. “[We] probably should have gone into the break a few more up than 1-0, but it-s pre-season so these are the things we-ve got to work on.”

Rose also took time to praise the efforts and performances of two of the youngsters Graham Arnold deployed in his first eleven on Sunday - Trent Sainsbury and Mitchell Duke.

“ ‘Sains- has done well right from the first game in New Caledonia,” he said. “He-s stepping up quite well and filling ‘Wilko-s- (Alex Wilkinson-s) shoes which is a great sign for us.”

“Also tonight I thought ‘Dukey- (Mitchell Duke) did well. He battled hard up front and won a lot of ball for us. He was probably unlucky not to score but he is coming along great as well,” he said.

Central Coast Mariners 1 (Zwaanswijk 3-) Melbourne Victory 1 (Thompson 61-) Knox Grammar School, Wahroonga Crowd: Approximately 2,000