No Christmas cheer for futile Mariners
Despite their best efforts throughout a mostly dominant ninety-minute display, the Central Coast Mariners’ luckless run in matches against the Wellington Phoenix has continued this evening following a 1-0 loss at Westpac Stadium.
Despite their best efforts throughout a mostly dominant ninety-minute display, the Central Coast Mariners- luckless run in matches against the Wellington Phoenix has continued this evening following a 1-0 loss at Westpac Stadium.
Shane Smeltz-s first ever goal against the Mariners after just two minutes was ultimately enough for the hosts to secure their second triumph over the Central Coast this season and extend their unbeaten run against the Mariners to four competitive matches.
Indeed, the Mariners have been frustrated by the Phoenix-s tenacity and unwavering resolve already this season and such fighting qualities would again frustrate the Mariners tonight, where the yellow and navy managed to win every statistics column except for that which matters most.
Try as they might, and they certainly did, the Mariners were unable to snap their bogey against their Kiwi counterparts and will return to Australian shores tomorrow without the competition points they so desperately tried for and perhaps deserved.
"We have to go out from the first minute and work very hard - that-s what our strength is, but that didn-t happen tonight," said Mariners Football Manager Lawrie McKinna after the match.
"After their goal we were quite comfortable and Danny Vukovic didn-t have a save to make.
"We had plenty of chances in the second half, but we were flat footed and not following up things and it just wasn-t happening for us.
"Credit to Wellington, they were putting their bodies on the line and were desperate in defence."
The score line at the end of the opening stanza was barely a reflection of solid early showing from the visitors, who more than dominated possession and chances after conceding their earliest goal of the campaign.
Prolific New Zealand international marksman Smeltz was neatly placed to emphatically head home Leo Bertos- precise cross and hand the Phoenix an early advantage that had come about with less than 100 seconds on the clock.
Thereafter, the Mariners enjoyed the lion-s share of time on the ball and were seldom tested, though tellingly, forced Wellington custodian Glen Moss into very few saves of his own.
John Hutchinson, playing with as much attacking endeavour as he has showcased throughout season four, was the Mariners- primary outlet going forward and provided the final pass for the Mariners- best chance of the half - a close range shot by Adrian Caceres that was tipped over the crossbar by Moss.
Patience seemed key to the Mariners breaking down the Wellington defence for the first time this season, though the patience of Mariners Members and supporters watching from across the Tasman would have been fast thinning, even as soon as early in the second half.
By the hour mark the Mariners had twice been denied by desperate scrambling defence and some more fine saves from Moss, while a trademark Mile Jedinak free kick was goal bound if not for a brave Phoenix wall.
Nik Mrdja and Sasho Petrovski were each introduced off the bench for the closing stages in a bid to salvage the Mariners an equaliser and though both would toil hard, neither was successful in breaching a torrid Wellington backline.
The result keeps the Mariners on of the fringes of the Hyundai A-League top four with five rounds to play and with plenty to do in order to successfully defend their Premiership Plate.
"Tonight-s result keeps the top four open for anybody now, we-re off to Newcastle next week for a local derby where form goes out the window," said McKinna.
"Everybody is still capable of beating everybody else and we-ll have a hard game up there and then Perth at home, which is also a hard game.
"We just need to get mentally right that we-re going to go into these games and battle hard and then our best football will come."
The Mariners- Hyundai A-League season continues at the EnergyAustralia Stadium home derby rivals the Newcastle Jets on Friday, 26 December. Kick off is at 8pm.
The Mariners return to their Bluetongue Stadium home on Wednesday, 31 December - New Year-s Eve - for the showpiece of their annual summer holiday extravaganza, which will culminate with a Hyundai A-League fixture against the Perth Glory. Kick off is at 6pm.
Tickets for this match are on sale from Ticketek outlets, from the Ticketek website - www.ticketek.com.au, or via phone on 132 849.
For more information regarding the Gosford waterfront New Year-s Eve festival, visit www.gosfordnye.com.au.
Central Coast Mariners 20. Danny Vukovic (gk), 2. Andre Gumprecht, 4. Pedj Bojic, 5. Bradley Porter, 7. John Hutchinson, 8. Dean Heffernan, 10. Adrian Caceres (9. Nik Mrdja 70-), 11. Dylan Macallister, 18. Alex Wilkinson, 19. Matt Simon (22. Sasho Petrovski 76-), 23. Mile Jedinak
Unused Subs 17. Matthew Osman, 30. Andrew Redmayne (gk)
Yellow Cards Caceres 45-, Porter 49-, Macallister 52- Red Cards None Goals None
Wellington Phoenix 20. Glen Moss (gk), 3. Tony Lochhead, 4. Jon McKain, 5. Karl Dodd, 6. Tim Brown, 7. Leo Bertos, 9. Shane Smeltz, 10. Michael Ferrante (2. Jeremy Christie 76-), 13. Troy Hearfield (11. Daniel 67-), 22. Andrew Durante, 25. Manny Muscat
Unused Subs 15. Adam Kwasnik, 30. Scott Higgins (gk)
Yellow Cards Smeltz 62-, Durante 90-, Brown 90-+2 Red Cards None Goals Smeltz 2-
Referee Chris Beath Crowd 6,722