New Year’s special puts Mariners top
The largest Bluetongue Stadium audience of the season has ushered in the New Year in some style, following the Central Coast Mariners' 1-0 triumph over the Perth Glory in the final Hyundai A-League exhibition of 2008.
The largest Bluetongue Stadium audience of the season has ushered in the New Year in some style, following the Central Coast Mariners‘ 1-0 triumph over the Perth Glory in the final Hyundai A-League exhibition of 2008.
15,546 spectators witnessed the Mariners dictate terms throughout the majority of ninety absorbing minutes in considerable summer heat before John Hutchinson sealed all three points with a contender for the goal of the season ten minutes from full time.
Three points was ultimately no less than the home side deserved for a dominant display from start to finish that, most significantly, advanced the yellow and navy to top spot in the Hyundai A-League to begin 2009.
"It was a game that we had to win and we played well and dominated the first half - we played some great stuff," said Mariners Football Manager Lawrie McKinna after the match.
"Second half they came at us a bit, as we thought they would, but we knew it was just a matter of time and the way it was going, it was going to take a special goal to win it because Perth were defending well and we were taking a few bad options in the front third.
"As the game went on I thought on the break they were looking dangerous, they had pace, but credit goes to our defence for keeping a clean against one of the most in-form strike forces in the Hyundai A-League at the moment.
"All the boys on the park played good football and no one will say that we didn-t deserve a win."
Unbeaten at Bluetongue Stadium in four matches and having recorded all but two of their season four wins at the foot of the Brisbane Waters, the Mariners would have fancied their chances in front of their largest home attendance of the campaign.
The form showcased by the yellow and navy from the opening whistle suggested that the home side were confident - Nik Mrdja particularly threatening in his first start since September 2007.
Midfield ace Mile Jedinak, in his last contribution to the Mariners- Premiership defence, was dominant in the centre and the source of much of the Mariners- attacking verve.
Late in the half, his through ball to Mrdja presented the home side with perhaps their best chance to open the scoring, only for young Perth ‘keeper Tando Velaphi to make a smart save low and to his left.
At the other end, captain Alex Wilkinson oozed authority and presence alongside fellow former youth international Pedj Bojic, while Dean Heffernan and Bradley Porter contributed well on the flanks to limit the Glory-s attacking advances.
However, it was in the final third where the Mariners were both most impressive and most frustrating - having enjoyed the vast majority of possession and chances only to have nothing to show for their efforts.
It wasn-t until Adrian Caceres supplied the final pass to his midfield partner Hutchinson that the Mariners would truly seize the moment and send the vocal Bluetongue Stadium gallery into raptures.
Hutchinson controlled Caceres- pass with his first touch and then launched a speculative effort from beyond twenty metres that amazingly dipped and swerved into both uprights before resting in the side of the net.
It was Hutchinson-s second goal of the season and third on the occasion of a New Year-s Eve match at Bluetongue Stadium and beyond the sentimentality of Jedinak-s emotional farewell and the festive mood that illuminated the terraces, it was this strike that will be best remembered by those in attendance.
"I remember Adrian squaring me up, it bobbled off my bad touch and I thought, I-m just going to hit it, so I did and as soon as it started swerving, I was thinking, please don-t swerve anymore," said Hutchinson.
"When it hit the post I didn-t think it was going in, luckily it hit the other post and went in.
"I was happy with the strike, the three points and to send Mile off a winner.
"We-ve proven all year what character we have in the side, from the top with Lawrie all the way down to the people working at the club, everyone puts in their fair share and we never ever give up a game."
The Mariners are back at Bluetongue Stadium on Saturday, 10 January when they host the Queensland Roar in Round 19 of the Hyundai A-League 2008/09 season. Kick off is at 7pm.
Tickets for this match are on sale from Ticketek outlets, from the Ticketek website - www.ticketek.com.au, or via phone on 132 849.
Central Coast Mariners 20. Danny Vukovic (gk), 4. Pedj Bojic, 5. Bradley Porter, 7. John Hutchinson, 8. Dean Heffernan (15. Andrew Clark 78-), 9. Nik Mrdja (2. Andre Gumprecht 77-), 10. Adrian Caceres, 17. Matthew Osman, 18. Alex Wilkinson, 22. Sasho Petrovski (13. Paul O-Grady 90-+2), 23. Mile Jedinak
Unused Subs 30. Andrew Redmayne (gk)
Yellow Cards Heffernan 42- Red Cards None Goals Hutchinson 80-
Perth Glory 30. Tando Velaphi (gk), 2. Nikolai Topor-Stanley, 4. Jamie Coyne, 5. Jamie Harnwell, 7. Nick Rizzo (31. Scott Neville 81-), 13. Nikita Rukavytsya (9. Adrian Trinidad 63-), 16. Adriano Pellegrino, 17. James Downey, 19. Naum Sekulovski, 25. Marc Anthony, 29. Victor Sikora (11. Scott Bulloch 75-)
Unused Subs 1. Jason Petkovic (gk)
Yellow Cards None Red Cards None Goals None
Referee Strebre Delovski Crowd 15,546