Mariners sail home with a point

Seven weeks of action away from Bluetongue Stadium has finally ended for the Central Coast Mariners, after battling out a 2-all draw with Melbourne Victory at AAMI Park tonight.

Seven weeks of action away from Bluetongue Stadium has finally ended for the Central Coast Mariners, after battling out a 2-all draw with Melbourne Victory at AAMI Park tonight.

Daniel McBreen opened the Mariners account in the first half before the hosts took the lead with two goals in as many minutes, but the Yellow and Navy were able to end their marathon road trip when Grant Brebner scored an own goal late on.

The result sees the Mariners in third place on 25 points, eight points off top spot, but vitally, still with three games in hand over league leader Brisbane, and they have the luxury of finally returning to Bluetongue this Sunday, to tackle Gold Coast United, in what will be just the fifth game in Gosford in 14 matches this campaign.

“I thought that was the best they (Melbourne) have played in a long, long time so the fact that we came down here and got a point and that we-re finally going back to Bluetongue makes me very happy,” said Mariners Head Coach Graham Arnold.

“I just hope that the Mariners supporters get out in droves and support what this team has done over the past seven weeks. We haven-t been there since October 2, we-ve played five games on the road and have only been beaten once.

The Mariners had gone five hours without conceding heading into tonight-s clash and a big reason behind that stat is the form of young goalkeeper Mathew Ryan, who was impressive from the outset again, to leap highest and brilliantly snuff out a Carlos Hernandez free-kick just two minutes in.

Marvin Angulo, drafted back into the Victory lineup played a good ball into Robbie Kruse soon after, however the young striker-s lack of football in recent weeks showed, as he scuffed wide from ten yards.

Archie Thompson and Hernandez were looking dangerous through the middle and the latter shot at Ryan from 20 yards, before the former went close twice soon after.

Firstly, Angulo slid a delightful ball through for Thompson, but the Qantas Socceroos marksman couldn-t quite latch on, he did get his boot behind it on 17 minutes though, but shot straight at Ryan under heavy pressure from Alex Wilkinson.

The Yellow and Navy did well to repel the early pressure and had their first chance on 18 minutes, when Matt Simon headed a free-kick in from Oliver Bozanic narrowly over the bar.

Bozanic tried his luck from distance on 21 minutes as the Mariners began to claw their way back into the clash, and the opener would come eight minutes later.

Wilkinson did well to hold the ball up down the right and play a delightful ball in for McBreen, who did well to nod it down with his head, and slot a powerful shot low past Michael Petkovic.

Not willing to sit back after taking the advantage, Mustafa Amini fired over the bar from 25 yards after cutting inside his man in the left channel, but the hosts would have the next good chance.

Ryan fumbled a curling Hernandez corner, but Angulo shot wide from close range, and the Mariners could happily take the one goal buffer into the sheds.

The hosts returned in the second half desperate for an equaliser, Thompson sending Billy Celeski through, who saw a shot deflected wide soon after the resumption.

Both goalkeepers were keeping busy, as first Ryan pulled off two fine saves to deny Thompson, before Petkovic had to be on his toes after McBreen tried to thread the needle at the near post after a lovely turn.

An equaliser would arrive on 62 minutes as Muscat headed a cross back into the mixer, which Thompson latched onto, and while Ryan appeared to have that covered, Roddy Vargas got a last ditch flick on to draw his side level.

Two minutes later the Victory would have the lead, as Hernandez, who had looked dangerous all night, stepped up to send a delightful curling free-kick into the top corner for one of the goals of the season.

Angulo and Hernandez both fired over the bar as the hosts continued to attack, while Bozanic fired a low drive from the edge of the box to once again test Petkovic at the near post.

After 80 spirited minutes of football the Mariners received what they thoroughly deserved, Petkovic spilling a dangerous corner in from Bozanic on the right, and Wilkinson pounced on the scraps, before the ball was eventually scuffed over the line by Brebner to once again level things up.

Kwasnik fired wide as the clock wound down and Matthew Lewis had a half chance late on to steal the points, but the Mariners would still be content to head home to their faithful Members and supporters with a point.

“They can look at the draw now and see that we have five games in a row at Bluetongue, we-ve played four games at home, nine away in 13 games, so if you said to me at the start of the season, after four games at home and nine away to be where we are I wouldn-t have believed you, but I-ve learned a lot about this club in the short space of time that I-ve been here.

“We have a great team spirit and you can see that in the way they work for each other. We-ve got no stars, we have no Archie Thompsons, no Kevin Muscats, Melbourne Victory have all the quality, but we roll our sleeves up from the first minute to the 90th, and we have a right go,” said a passionate Arnold.

Left-back Josh Rose echoed his coach-s excitement about a long awaited return to their home ground.

“We know we didn-t play great football tonight but Arnie came in and told us not to be disappointed with the result tonight, we may have been a bit lucky but at the end of the day we ended up getting a point out of it and we can take that back to Bluetongue now and hopefully get the three points on Sunday.

“It-s always good to go home after a couple of long road trips, we-ve had a good run at Bluetongue and hopefully we can keep that going,” said Rose.

The Central Coast Mariners next match of the 2010/11 Hyundai A-League season will be against Gold Coast United this Sunday, 21 November at Bluetongue Stadium, Gosford. Kick-off is at 5:00pm (AEDT).

Tickets for this match are available online by CLICKING HERE or by phoning 132 849.

Match Details

Melbourne Victory 2 (Vargas 62-, Hernandez 64-) Central Coast Mariners 2 (McBreen 29-, Brebner 79-(OG))

Melbourne Victory: 1. Michael PETKOVIC (gk), 2. Kevin MUSCAT (c), 6. Leigh BROXHAM, 8. Grant BREBNER, 10. Archie THOMPSON (13. Diogo FERRERIA 77-), 11. Marvin ANGULO, 12. Rodrigo VARGAS, 14. Billy CELESKI (15. Tom PONDELJAK 79-), 16. Carlos HERNANDEZ (3. Mate DUGANDZIC 84-), 21. Robbie KRUSE, 23. Adrian LEIJER.

Subs not Used: 20. Sebastian MATTEI (gk).

Yellow Cards: Leijer 44-, Brebner 54- Red Cards: Nil

Central Coast Mariners: 20. Mathew RYAN (gk), 2. Daniel McBREEN (12. Matthew LEWIS 90-), 3. Josh ROSE, 4. Pedj BOJIC, 6. Patrick ZWAANSWIJK, 8. Rostyn GRIFFITHS, 11. Oliver BOZANIC, 14. Michael McGLINCHEY, 18. Alex WILKINSON (c), 19. Matt SIMON, 22. Mustafa AMINI (23. Adam KWASNIK 71-).

Subs not Used: 30. Paul HENDERSON (gk).

Yellow Cards: McBreen 60- Red Cards: Nil

Referee: Gerard PARSONS Crowd: 9,674 @ AAMI Park, Melbourne