Mariners show their class to see off Belconnen

Central Coast Mariners breezed past Belconnen United in the opening match of their short pre-season Canberra tour downing the Blue Devils 5-nil on a freezing cold evening at McKellar Park in front of a crowd of just under 1,000.

var switchTo5x=true;stLight.options({publisher:'0f3cb6a7-4be7-434e-bb7e-58a5359cfde7'}); Central Coast Mariners breezed past Belconnen United in the opening match of their short pre-season Canberra tour downing the Blue Devils 5-nil on a freezing cold evening at McKellar Park in front of a crowd of just under 1,000.

The Mariners thought they had got off to a wonder start with a goal inside the first minute only to see it chalked off in bizarre circumstances. Oliver Bozanic showed his pace with a forceful run down the left flank and his low cross was confidently finished by Michael Baird, only for referee Brett Woodford to disallow the effort because there were two balls on the pitch.

There was almost constant Mariners pressure in the opening 15 minutes and Belconnen goalkeeper Rowan Sheppard had to be at his best to beat away a fierce drive from Adriano Pellegrino from 30 metres.

It was inevitable that the Mariners would break the deadlock though and the opening came on the quarter hour mark. A cross into the penalty area ricocheted off at least three players before falling kindly to Rostyn Griffiths who blazed a low right foot shot through a crowd of players from twelve metres.

The home team lifted a little after this and Taylor Beaton - who trialled with the Mariners in 2008 and scored twice in a 2-1 win against his own club - tested out Justin Pasfield with a fierce strike on 28 minutes. Almost immediately the Mariners should have doubled their lead when Baird collected a knock-down and rounded Sheppard only to find the side-netting from an acute angle.

Baird finally found the scoresheet in the 35th minute when Pedj Bojic crossed into the box and the striker nudged the ball past the advancing Sheppard and swept it into the net to double the visitors lead. Baird-s unlucky evening continued shortly afterwards when he flicked a beautiful angled header over Sheppard only to see the linesman-s flag raised for offside.

The Mariners did make it 3-0 six minutes before the interval when Bojic strode forward and flashed a shot towards goal which deflected off a Blue Devils defender and looped into the net to give Graham Arnold-s team a comfortable half-time lead.

The second half started much the same as the first ended with the Mariners on the front foot. Pellegrino was instrumental in most of the Central Coast-s most threatening attacking forays and it was from his run and slide-rule pass nine minutes after the re-start that Troy Hearfield shot narrowly wide.

Barely two minutes later Baird was left frustrated by substitute ‘keeper Jason Denham as he advanced clean through the Blue Devils defence. Showing a little pre-season rustiness in front of goal the striker telegraphed his intentions and his casual shot was pushed round the post by the agile Belconnen custodian.

At the other end Pasfield was a virtual spectator with Taylor Beaton-s dipping shot seventeen minutes from time hardly troubling the Mariners number one.

The Mariners added a fourth goal in the 79th minute when substitute Matt Simon laid off a simple pass to Baird who turned it into the net from close range. The gloss was added to the scoreboard six minutes later when Baird finally got the hat-trick he had been searching for all night, breaking through the centre and shooting straight at Denham who couldn-t prevent the ball slipping out of his grasp and into the net.

Central Coast Mariners 5 (Rostyn Griffiths 16-, Michael Baird 35-, 80-, 85-, Pedj Bojic 40-) Belconnen United 0

Central Coast Mariners 20. Justin Pasfield (gk), 2. Daniel McBreen (9. Brent Griffiths 45-), 4. Pedj Bojic, 5. Brad Porter (14. Michael McGlinchey 45-), 6. Patrick Zwaanswijk (3. Joshua Rose 45-), 8. Rostyn Griffiths, 10. Adriano Pellegrino, 11. Oliver Bozanic, 12. Troy Hearfield (19. Matt Simon 68-), 15. Brad McDonald, 17. Michael Baird

Belconnen United 1. Rowan Sheppard (gk) (20. Jason Denham 45-), 2. Matt Valeri, 3. Dustin Wells (14. Ryan Jordan 87-), 5. Taylor Beaton, 6. Elliot Zwangobani (10. Nick Bobolas 78-, 18. Tim Bobolas 87-), 7. Callum Beaton (17. Jon Toole 83-), 8. Cameron Reinhart (11. Michael Reeves 64-), 9. Nicky Rogers (12. Callum Smith 64-), 15. Tom McLachlan (4. Ryan Jones 45-), 16. Zac Maybury, 19. David Arranz

Match Officials Referee Brett Woodford Assistants Luke Withell, Greg Taylor