Mariners miss shot at victory

A last gasp own goal has robbed the Central Coast Mariners of what would have been a deserved victory against a Capital Football select XI

A last gasp own goal has robbed the Central Coast Mariners of what would have been a deserved victory against a Capital Football select XI, in the final match of a five-day pre-season trip to Canberra.

The local side had the opening chance of the match as Adam Spaleta brought down a long ball and cut back for Ian Waldron, who scuffed his shot, Adam Kwasnik provided the Mariners first opening, recovering from a knock to test the Capital Football ‘keeper Chris Morrow from 25 yards.

Nik Mrdja fired a free kick over the bar soon after, while Canberra FC pair Alex Castro played on Dom Giampalo who put his first time effort over the bar, and it was the hosts who took the lead three minutes later.

A long ball into the box proved troublesome for Danny Vukovic, who, looking directly into the sun was unable to hold it, and despite suspicions of offside, Daniel Gecic was able to finish past the unlucky Mariners custodian.

"We-re building up. It-s been a heavy week again, the first goal was disappointing, Danny lost it in the sun, and obviously an own goal in the last minute is always disappointing, but credit to the ACT, they worked their socks off. It-s a tight park and they dug in and worked really hard, made it difficult for us and upset us," Mariners Football Manager Lawrie McKinna said.

But the goal appeared to spur the Central Coast into action, a good ball into the box by Ahmad Elrich helped Pedj Bojic win a corner, Bojic heading over the bar from the ensuing set piece.

The former Northampton Town man again in the thick of the action on 24 minutes, when he laid the ball off for Adrian Caceres, who watched a deflected shot narrowly miss the target.

Kwasnik-s turn and shot soon after was cleared only as far as Caceres who again caused Morrow problems, and the Mariners eventually found an equaliser just after the half hour.

Elrich-s run down the left and cross to the feet of Nicky Travis, meant the Sheffield United academy product could execute an impressive finish to the left of Morrow.

The Mariners had chances to take the lead but were unfortunate to see a couple of chances miss the target, while Elrich shot at Morrow deep into injury time.

The representative side wasn-t laying down though and again took the lead, after Luke Pilkington-s mishit bobbled around in the box, allowing Dom Giampalo to tap home.

But just two minutes later balance was restored, Adrian Caceres making a good run down the right wing, before taking the ball into the box and slipping it past replacement ‘keeper Jason Denham.

Five minutes later, the Mariners had the lead for the first time, thanks to one of the star performers of the five-day sojourn to the nation-s capital.

Pedj Bojic stepped up for a free kick 30 yards out, and with his spectacular winner in a pre-season trial against Queensland state league side Logan United just over a month ago still fresh in his mind, blasted home to make it 3-2.

"It-s not really a surprise. He scored one like that a few weeks ago up in Queensland and this was a quality finish from about 25 metres. He bent it to the back post and that deserved to win the game," said McKinna.

Giampalo forced Vukovic into an athletic save with a free kick on the hour, while Kwasnik and Dylan Macallister both had half chances to add another.

"Credit to them for going 1-nil up, but as the game wore on we got more on top. Pedj-s goal was a cracking goal, Caceres and Nicky Travis both scored good goals. The three goals we scored were great goals, and we could have had a few more with better crossing and finishing," McKinna said.

Cruelly though for young Belconnen goalkeeper Alex Connell, given the last five minutes in the Mariners goal by Lawrie McKinna, he was unable to pick up a backpass from Alex Wilkinson, the Central Coast watching on helplessly as it trickled into the empty net to rescue a 3-3 draw for the hosts.

Dylan Macallster and Matt Simon were both introduced by McKinna in the second half, signaling their long awaited comebacks after lengthy injury layoffs.

"Good to see Dylan and Matt Simon coming back, but Ahmad Elrich got a knock in the first minute and Nik Mrdja got stud marks right down the back of his leg in the first few minutes so they might be a little bit doubtful for next week," said McKinna.

The Mariners remain undefeated this pre-season campaign, and are next in action in a pre-season trial match against Gold Coast United next Saturday, 18 July at Skilled Park. Kick Off is at 7:30pm.

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"We-ve had five training sessions and two games, and that-s all we can ask for. You always want to win games and it-s disappointing we let in two terrible goals but we kept coming back and made some good plays. When boys get tired they start making mistakes. They were tired in the last ten minutes and I think that-s when the mistakes started showing.

"We-ve got five field sessions this week and then fly to the Gold Coast on Friday, and that-s going to be a big test for us. They-re flying after a win against Fulham, so it will be an interesting match up next weekend," McKinna said.

Mariners Memberships for the Hyundai A-League 2009/10 season are now available online by clicking here or by phoning 1300 767 442.

Match Details

Central Coast Mariners 20. Danny Vukovic (gk) (30. Alex Connell (gk) 86-) .4. Pedj Bojic, 5. Brad Porter, 8. Dean Heffernan (26. David D-Apuzzo 46-), 9. Nik Mrdja (2. Lim Dong Sup 46-), 10. Adrian Caceres (19. Matt Simon 78-), 13. Chris Doig (16. Nigel Boogaard 46-), 18. Alex Wilkinson (c), 21. Ahmad Elrich (11. Dylan Macallister 53-), 22. Nicky Travis, 23. Adam Kwasnik,.

Unused Subs 15. Andrew Clark.

Yellow Cards Dean Heffernan 13- Red Cards None Goals Nicky Travis 31-, Adrian Caceres 52-, Pedj Bojic 57-

Capital Football XI 22. Chris Morrow (gk) (1. Jason Denham (gk) 46-), 4. Ian Waldron (3. David Kemp 46-), 5. Luke Pilkington (11. Cameron Gordon 64-), 6. John Glass, 7. Alex Castro, (2. Taylor Beaton 59-), 8. Ryan Jones, 10. Daniel Gecic (17. Matt Mensar 46-), 12. Dom Giampalo, 13. Lee Pietrokowski (c), 14. John Ison (9. Marcin Zygmunt 71-), 15. Adam Spaleta.

Unused Subs None.

Yellow Cards 8. Ryan Jones 37-, 10. Daniel Gecic 38- Alex Castro 57- Red Cards None Goals Daniel Gecic 20-, Dom Giampalo 50-, Alex Wilkinson (og 90-)

Referee Ben Williams Crowd Approx 1,400