Mariners, Wanderers battle out scoreless draw

CENTRAL Coast Mariners commenced their Hyundai A-League Premiership defence with a 0-0 draw away to Western Sydney Wanderers at Parramatta Stadium on Saturday night.

CENTRAL Coast Mariners commenced their Hyundai A-League Premiership defence with a 0-0 draw away to Western Sydney Wanderers at Parramatta Stadium on Saturday night.

In the historic A-League encounter, a crowd of 10,458 fans saw Graham Arnold-s men dominate possession against Tony Popovic-s team on a slick, rain sodden surface.

However, the well-organised Wanderers managed to frustrate the reigning Premiers Plate winners in their first ever Hyundai A-League clash, earning a point in what was a tight, tense, and ultimately entertaining affair.

The first half saw relatively few clear-cut opportunities created by either team. Indeed, Mariners midfielder Tomas Rogic was the first to unleash a shot for the away side, however his powerful effort on eight minutes from range was smothered by the Wanderers backline.

Marauding right back Pedj Bojic nearly caught Western Sydney custodian Ante Covic off guard a few minutes later with a cross-cum-shot that almost snuck in at the far post.

The Wanderers best chance of the opening stanza came via the boot of former Newcastle Jets attacker Labinot Haliti in the 37th minute. Bearing down on goal, Haliti found Mariners gloveman Mathew Ryan too tough to beat, with the two-time NAB Young Goalkeeper of the Year doing well to thwart the Wanderers wide man.

Just two minutes later Rogic opened a chance for Mitchell Duke after a strong run through midfield and a crafty pass. Unfortunately for Duke and the Mariners, his touch was too strong and Covic managed to rush off his line to claim comfortably.

Early in the second stanza Mark Bridge had a chance to score an historic goal for the A-League-s new boys. Again, Ryan dropped low to stop the shot before bouncing to his feet to claim the rebound.

Popovic introduced Japanese superstar Shinji Ono just before the hour mark alongside former Mariners NYL player Kwabena Appiah-Kubi. And, it didn-t take long for the former Feyenoord man Ono to show his ability. In the 68th minute he combined well with Aaron Mooy before sending a shot high of Ryan-s crossbar.

Graham Arnold introduced Bernie Ibini and handed a debut appearance to British recruit Nick Montgomery with 20 minutes to play, and both made strong contributions to the match in its dying stages.

Indeed, Montgomery looked menacing and mobile in the Mariners midfield, while Ibini toiled away alongside Duke across the front third, helping fashion numerous half chances for Central Coast to score.

And Michael McGlinchey had a powerful shot on the angle beaten away by Covic with the clock ticking down.

But despite the best efforts of both teams in the final stages, neither side could manage to score the elusive goal to get their season off to the best possible start.

In the post match press conference, Central Coast Mariners Head Coach Arnold said he was pleased with his teams- performance after a long pre-season. And, the former Qantas Socceroos mentor praised the Wanderers for their effort.

“I-m very happy,” Arnold said. “I think the whole evening was a success. Tonight was more about West Sydney and the response was fantastic from the crowd. It was a real good atmosphere.”

“It-s good to get the first game out of the way. They made it difficult for us to play. Tony (Popovic) had them very well organised. They made it hard for us to break them down.”

“And they had two of the better chances on the counter attack.”

“(But) I-m going up the freeway happy with a point.”

Central Coast Mariners play their next Hyundai A-League game at home to Perth Glory next Sunday 14 October, 2012. The team will play in all pink in an Hyundai A-League first, supporting Pink Ribbon Day. Tickets for the Mariners first home clash of the season are available from Ticketek.

Western Sydney Wanderers 0

Central Coast Mariners 0

Parramatta Stadium

Attendance: 10,458

Western Sydney Wanderers:1. Ante Covic (Gk), 3. Adam D-Apuzzo, 4. Nikolai Topor-Stanley, 5. Michael Beauchamp (c), 6. Jerome Polenz, 7. Labinot Haliti (21. Shinji Ono 59-), 8. Mateo Poljak (2. Shannon Cole 78-), 9. Dino Kresinger, 10. Aaron Mooy, 17. Youssouf Hersi (14. Kwabena Appiah-Kubi 59-), 19. Mark Bridge

Substitutes Not Used: 20. Jerrad Tyson (Gk)

Yellow Cards: Mooy 53-

Red Cards: Nil

Central Coast Mariners: 1. Mathew Ryan (Gk), 3. Joshua Rose, 4. Pedj Bojic, 6. Patrick Zwaanswijk, 7. John Hutchinson (c), 8. Adriano Pellegrino (18. Nick Montgomery 70-), 10. Tomas Rogic, 14. Michael McGlinchey, 16. Trent Sainsbury, 19. Mitchell Duke, 21. Mile Sterjovski (9. Bernie Ibini 70-)

Substitutes Not Used: 5. Zach Anderson, 20. Justin Pasfield (Gk)

Yellow Cards: Sterjovski 38-

Red Cards: Nil

Referee: Alan Milliner