Mariners show true character in come from behind draw

Derby matches between the Central Coast Mariners and Sydney FC never fail to entertain, and this, the 19th meeting between the two rivals lived up to expectations. A 2-all draw was the end result of a seesawing Week 24 Hyundai A-League meeting played in front of a boisterous crowd of 10,546 supporters.

Derby matches between the Central Coast Mariners and Sydney FC never fail to entertain, and this, the 19th meeting between the two rivals lived up to expectations. A 2-all draw was the end result of a seesawing Week 24 Hyundai A-League meeting played in front of a boisterous crowd of 10,546 supporters.

A first half brace from teenage striker Dimitri Petratos gave Sydney a 2-nil advantage before Patricio Perez and Matt Simon-s second half efforts put the Mariners one point clear of Adelaide United in second spot.

Mariner-s Head Coach Graham Arnold continues to be amazed by the character of his characters.

“The character in this team is unbelievable,” said Arnold.

“They were out on their feet, and playing their fifth game in fourteen days, and to be 2-nil down at halftime any team with a lesser mentality could have thought game over and focused on the next game.

“To come back from that was very pleasing.

Arnold was particularly happy with the performance of Patricio Perez, who played arguably one of his best games in the Yellow and Navy.

“I thought Perez was probably our best player today. I-ve said all along he brings something very different to our team.

“That run he made for the goal today was the type of runs I saw him do in Argentina, and it-s pleasing that he-s now getting the fitness to do those type of runs. His goal today was a great first touch and a wonderful finish.”

When the two sides took to the Bluetongue Stadium turf they were greeting by a swirling breeze that had picked up significantly in the minutes before kick-off. As a result many of the opening passes were over-hit as both teams tried to quickly adapt to the conditions. Running directly into the wind it was the visitors who settled in first having the first two half chances of the match.

A goalmouth scramble in the second minute saw Nick Carle fire off the opening shot of the afternoon, but the Sydney playmaker couldn-t get his shot on target. His teammate Scott Jamieson attempted to pick up where Carle left off when his cross almost became a shot courtesy of the viciously swirling wind.

However it was to be the home side that manufactured the best of these opening chances. Sydney defender Stephan Keller was exceptionally blasé when he tried to head a ball back to his ‘keeper Liam Reddy. Adam Kwasnik, a man in a rich vein of form realised that there was an opportunity and immediately pounced on the ball and went within inches of heading home the opener.

There was certainly an element of luck to what ultimately became the opening goal. Both of the Mariners central defenders, in an effort to play the offside trap had eyes for Bruno Cazarine who appeared to be the intended recipient of a long ball from the Sydney midfield.

Cazarine was in an offside position, but was adjudged to have not adversely affected the play, and teenage striker Dimitri Petratos gleefully accepted the spoils to drive home the opening goal. It was a decision that could have gone either way, and unfortunately for the home side in this instance it went the way of the visitors.

One of the many subplots in any game of football is the battle between youth and experience, and this was certainly apparent in Petratos- second goal of the afternoon, as the 18 year old seized on a rare loose touch from Patrick Zwaanswijk - twice the teenager-s age - to drive home for a 2-nil lead.

Stunned by a two-goal deficit the home side tried to get themselves back into the match by doing what they have done consistently this season, controlling the midfield. Passes weren-t quite sticking, and the Mariners were forced to take shots from distance as a means of putting pressure on Reddy.

The half-time break rejuvenated the hosts, and Graham Arnold, an astute tactician decided to change the approach and dropped a defender.

It proved a masterstroke, and the Mariners were full of running to begin the second half. The proactive ploy was vindicated in the best possible fashion when Patricio Perez pulled a goal back in the 49th minute.

Oliver Bozanic made a break down the left flank and released Perez with an exquisitely timed pass that gave the Argentine playmaker all the time and space he needed to net his first goal in open play for the club with a sublime finish.

Full of confidence, the Mariners continued to press forward in search of the goal that would bring them level, urged on by the Bluetongue faithful. They wouldn-t have to wait long.

In the 56th minute Kwasnik made a strong run that ended on the edge of the box when the Sydney defence brought him down illegally. Perez stepped up to take the resulting free kick, and the goal scorer turned provider with Matt Simon on hand to head home his eleventh goal of the campaign.

The goal sent the fans into raptures, but they were nearly silenced sixty seconds later in the most brutal fashion. Mariners custodian Mat Ryan showed a keen sense of anticipation to sprint off his line and frustrate a Sydney attacking move by batting the ball down.

After having all the running the momentum changed slightly, and the visitors enjoyed a period of territorial advantage and created a chance through the boot of substitute striker Juho Makela. Sydney kept peppering Ryan-s goal but a composed defensive effort from the Mariners ensured that the shots would come from distance.

At the other end of the park the Mariners kept pressing in search of an elusive winner. The ball seemed to follow McBreen around, with the striker enjoying three strong chances in a tense final ten minutes of the match.

The first came after Michael McGlinchey provided a bullet-like cross that McBreen was unable to turn inside a heavily guarded near post. Frustrated by that miss, the striker fired off a shot that was goal-bound until a diving Reddy was able to steer it around the far post.

Mustafa Amini was given a cameo appearance and the enthusiastic youngster had a chance to net the winner in the fading minutes of regular time, but on this occasion the teenager with an exceptionally mature technique couldn-t keep his shot down.

With both sides desperate to net all three points for very different reasons; Sydney to close the gap on the top six, and the Mariners wanting to break away from Adelaide United, it was reasonable to expect that the three minutes of stoppage time would be played at a frantic pace.

Sydney continued to press forward with Shannon Cole and Petratos giving the Mariners defence a few nervous moments.

However it was McBreen who thought he had stolen a winner. The striker powerfully headed a looping ball from out wide and thought he had steered it through the tiniest of gaps at the far post. The joy was short-lived as the Mariners realised that the ball had cannoned into the side netting.

In the end a draw was a fair result in a match that always provides both sets of fans plenty of entertainment. At the end of a marathon stretch, the Mariners attention can now switch to the city of Churches, where a season-defining clash with Adelaide United looms.

“I can-t wait, it-s going to be a fantastic game, and with four or five days to prepare for it we-re going to be ready,” said Arnold.

The Central Coast Mariners next match of the Hyundai A-League 2010/11 season will be against Adelaide United next Saturday, 29 January at Hindmarsh Stadium, Adelaide. Kick-off is at 7:00pm CDT (7:30pm AEDT).

Match Details

Central Coast Mariners 2 (Perez 49-, Simon 57-) Sydney FC 2 (Petratos 17-, 27-)

Central Coast Mariners: 20. Mathew RYAN (gk), 4. Pedj BOJIC, 6. Patrick ZWAANSWIJK, 8. Rostyn GRIFFITHS (7. John HUTCHINSON 62-), 10. Patricio PEREZ, 11. Oliver BOZANIC, 14. Michael McGLINCHEY, 16. Trent SAINSBURY (2. Daniel McBREEN 46-), 18. Alex WILKINSON (c), 19. Matt SIMON, 23. Adam KWASNIK (22. Mustafa AMINI 80-).

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

Yellow Cards: Bojic 83- Red Cards: None

Sydney FC: 1. Liam REDDY (gk), 3. Stephan KELLER, 6. Hirofumi MORIYASU, 8. Stuart MUSIALIK, 9. Bruno CAZARINE (18. Juho MAKELA 63-), 10. Nick CARLE (2. Sebastian RYALL 85-), 15. Terry McFLYNN (c) (12. Shannon COLE 71-), 17. Matthew JURMAN, 21. Scott JAMIESON, 22. Sung-Hwan BYUN, 24. Dimitri PETRATOS.

Subs not Used: 20. Ivan NECEVSKI (gk).

Yellow Cards: Musialik 23-, Carle 44-, McFlynn 71-, Makela 78- Red Cards: None

Referee: Strebre DELOVSKI Crowd: 10,546 at Bluetongue Stadium, Gosford.