Mariners snap streak

The Central Coast Mariners have registered their first point of a frustrating six match period this Hyundai A-League campaign, following an entertaining 1-all draw with North Queensland Fury at Bluetongue Stadium.

The Central Coast Mariners have registered their first point of a frustrating six match period this Hyundai A-League campaign, following an entertaining 1-all draw with North Queensland Fury at Bluetongue Stadium.

"The first half was great, we created I don-t know how many chances and scored a great goal early and then dominated the game. They-ve had one shot and it was going five metres past the post then deflects in, but we never went on with it in the second half," said Mariners- Football Manager Lawrie McKinna.

Five barren weeks had the Mariners frothing at the mouth to finally snap the streak and they couldn-t have started any better, as Nigel Boogaard and Brad Porter linked up down the right to allow the latter to deliver a fantastic ball in, and Nik Mrdja showed great strength to get in front of Beau Busch and bury his header into the back of the net.

Porter shot over the bar on eight minutes and Dean Heffernan, who was looking incredibly lively after such an intense week in the Middle East with the Qantas Socceroos, won a corner soon after, while Pedj Bojic tested Justin Pasfield from long range, and the home side were very much the dominant force.

Busch had to make an important last-ditch block as Porter prepared to unleash, but despite the early pressure, the visitors found a freakish equaliser.

It had seemed Jeremy Brockie had fired a first time speculator from the edge of the area wide, but Porter couldn-t get out of the way quick enough, and the unluckiest of deflections had the Fury back on level terms.

Mrdja was adamant he had earned a penalty in the 26th minute when it appeared he had been held back by Matthew Smith, who also may have handled as Mrdja tried to get his cross in.

Porter and Nigel Boogaard both had shots blocked as the hosts continued to attack, while Mrdja, who was looking in fine form, sent a fierce drive marginally over the bar.

Danny Vukovic, also back from a week in the Qantas Socceroos camp, had to make a rare save on 38 minutes as Brockie unleashed toward the near post, and with time winding down, Mariners- skipper Alex Wilkinson could have very nearly had the side-s second, when he headed wide after latching on to a Porter corner.

Alex Wilkinson had to make an important challenge to deny Robbie Fowler early in the second half but the Mariners continued to threaten in front of goal, Mrdja and Heffernan linking beautifully, the latter trying to poke his shot with his stronger left foot, but sent it over the bar.

Brockie was looking dangerous and sent a low drive at Vukovic, while the Mariners- custodian was on hand again soon after to block Fowler.

The Fury thought they-d had a second on 68 minutes when Chris Grossman tucked away a Fowler through-ball, however replays showed the Assistant Referee was correct in ruling him offside.

Adam Kwasnik was introduced to bring an end to Heffernan-s whirlwind week and sent a side-footed volley high soon after his injection, before almost dinking a header over Pasfield who was caught marginally off his line.

Kwasnik again went close when an in-swinging corner found Pasfield out of position, but hit the top of the crossbar as it looked to be dipping in, while Vukovic had to tip a fierce Fowler effort over the bar in the dying stages, neither side though, was able to find a winner.

The one-all scoreline finally ending a five match losing streak for the Yellow and Navy.

"The big thing is we didn-t lose. It stopped that slide but we need to get wins. The first half performance was very positive, we created a lot of chances, and we had good shape.

"We looked to get that bite back in midfield, a bit of pace in there and a bit of support. Having Brad Porter wide right, Heff wide right and Pedj and Hutch in the middle, we closed them down well, put them under pressure and they kept giving the ball back. We got great service from the right and left in the first half," said McKinna.

McKinna also praised the work rate of his two strikers, Nik Mrdja and Matt Simon, particularly in the first 45 minutes.

"I thought the first half the two of them did very well but it-s just not happening in front of goals and the good thing is we-ve now got a set of (portable) goals at the stadium so we-ll actually be able to do a bit of shooting practice," McKinna said.

Dean Heffernan was left to reflect on an unbelievable week, capped by his second Qantas Socceroos cap, a goal in the 2-all AFC Asian Cup qualifier against Kuwait, and 66 minutes against the Fury, all punctuated but a 30 hour return trip from Kuwait City.

"It was tough. I spoke to the gaffer yesterday and we both decided I-d go as hard as I can for as long as I can. I started to cramp up early in the second half, got another 10-15 minutes out but just thought it was better to get some fresh legs on.

"I still can-t believe it all happened, but after it did happen I was just worried about this game tonight," said Heffernan.

The Mariners- next home match of the Hyundai A-League 2009/10 season will be against Gold Coast United Friday, 22 January. Kick-off is at 8:00pm. Tickets are available online here or by phoning 132 849.

Match Details

Central Coast Mariners 20. Danny VUKOVIC (GK), 4. Pedj BOJIC, 5. Brad PORTER, 7. John HUTCHINSON (14. Michael MCGLINCHEY 71-), 8. Dean HEFFERNAN (23. Adam KWASNIK 66-), 9. Nik MRDJA, 15. Andrew CLARK, 16. Nigel BOOGAARD, 17. Chris DOIG, 18. Alex WILKINSON (c), 19. Matt SIMON (11. Dylan MACALLISTER 77-).

Unused Subs 1. Andrew REDMAYNE (GK).

Yellow Cards None Red Cards None Goals Mrdja 3-

North Queensland Fury 20. Justin PASFIELD (GK), 2. Robbie MIDDLEBY (16. Paul KOHLER 41-), 3. Chris TADROSSE, 7. Jason SPAGNUOLO (27. Terry COOKE 67-), 9. Robbie FOWLER (C), 10. Jeremy BROCKIE, 13. Beau BUSCH, 14. Chris GROSSMAN, 24. Dyron DAAL (19. Daniel McBREEN 86-), 25. Grant SMITH, 26. Matthew SMITH.

Unused Subs 1. Paul HENDERSON (GK).

Yellow Cards None Red Cards None Goals Brockie 19-

Referee Ryan SHEPHEARD Crowd 6,556