Resolute Mariners just short of repelling Roar

Despite a stunning display by Mariners custodian Mathew Ryan, Central Coast Mariners have been defeated 1-0 by Brisbane Roar in front of 13,467 supporters at Suncorp Stadium tonight.

Central Coast Mariners have been defeated 1-0 by Brisbane Roar in front of 13,467 supporters at Suncorp Stadium tonight.

Mitch Nichols- clinical 72nd minute goal was all that separated the two sides, as last years Hyundai A-League Grand Finalists again dished up an entertaining display for fans to feast on.

Mathew Ryan was an almost impenetrable force between the sticks for the Yellow and Navy, showing throughout the 90 minutes why he was this week named FFA-s Under 20 Footballer of the Year.

Time and time again, 19-year-old Ryan reacted sharply to deny Roar, who despite having lost a number of key men throughout the off-season showed they will be one of the teams to beat.

Indeed, both the Mariners and Roar started the match as they had last season, intent on playing attractive, attacking football.

And, it took just 11 minutes for the first chance to materialise. Released via a precise pass from deep, Mariners striker Michael Baird burst forward from halfway, however his low shot was well saved by Roar custodian Michael Theoklitos who palmed the ball to safety.

Despite the Mariners looking menacing on the counter, Roar began to string their game together and on 21 minutes created their first real chance of the match. Neat interplay resulted in a number of opportunities coming and going in quick succession, with the Mariners defence working tirelessly to smother the best efforts of the rapid Roar raids.

Just minutes later, incisive work by another new Roar player, Issey Nakajima-Farran, created an opportunity for Nichols. Ushered wide by Ryan, Nichols could only find the woodwork from an acute angle, much to the disappointment of the parochial Suncorp crowd.

In the 38th minute it was again Ryan who proved Roar-s primary nemesis. With Brisbane-s new Albanian recruit, Besart Berisha, prodding the ball goalwards from close range, Ryan was again up to the task as he frustrated Ange Postecoglou-s chargers.

Arguably the Mariners closest opportunity of the opening stanza came just two minutes from half time, when Matt Simon-s deflected shot was just tipped over the bar by Theoklitos.

The second half began with a bang, with both teams having the opportunity to break the deadlock just three minutes in. First, Berisha scuffed his shot from close range to let the Mariners off the hook, before the Yellow and Navy broke purposefully only for Baird-s goal-bound header to be cleared off the line by Brisbane skipper Matthew Smith.

Ten minutes later, Ryan again came up with the goods to beat away James Meyer-s strong strike.

But unfortunately for the Yellow and Navy even Ryan-s heroics couldn-t prevent the Roar from finding the back of the net in the 72nd minute. A neat ball from Ivan Franjic found Nichols whose crisp shot angled past Ryan and send the Roar faithful into raptures.

Eager to source an equaliser, Central Coast continued to press Brisbane and work hard as a collective, however despite their best efforts couldn-t manage to craft a clear-cut opportunity to restore parity in the final 20 minutes of the match.

With the game finishing 1-0 in favour of the hosts, Mariners Head Coach Graham Arnold lauded his side-s endeavour, however noted some areas for improvement.

“I thought we played well in patches however on occasion we gave the ball away a bit cheaply,” Arnold said.

“This is something we need to keep working on, but to their credit, tonight we played a very good Brisbane Roar team.

“I-ve said it all off-season and I-ll say it again, whoever can consistently beat Brisbane Roar over the course of the season will go very close to winning the A-League.

“It-s a match I am glad to have out of the way. Now we can go home and focus on Gold Coast United,” he said.

Central Coast Mariners first home match of the Hyundai A-League season will be played at Bluetongue Stadium, Gosford, on Saturday 15 October against Gold Coast United. Kick-off is 5:30pm AEDT. Tickets can be purchased via Ticketek.

Match Details

Brisbane Roar 1 (Nichols 72-) Central Coast Mariners 0

Brisbane Roar: 1. Michael THEOKLITOS (gk), 2. Matthew SMITH (c), 3. Shane STEFFANUTTO, 4. Matthew JURMAN, 5. Ivan FRANJIC, 6. Erik PAARTALU, 7. Besart BERISHA (Massimo MURDOCCA 66-), 11. Issey NAKAJIMA-FARRAN (Kofi DANNING 80-), 17. Mitchell NICHOLS, 21. James MEYER, 22. Thomas BROICH

Subs not used: 16. Mohamed ADNAN, 20. Andrew REDMAYNE (gk)

Yellow Cards: Shane STEFFANUTO 57- Red Cards: Nil

Central Coast Mariners: 1. Mathew RYAN (gk), 3. Joshua ROSE, 4. Pedj BOJIC, 5. Brad PORTER, 6. Patrick ZWAANSWIJK (c), 8. Rostyn GRIFFITHS (Daniel MCBREEN 86-), 10. Adriano PELLEGRINO, 11. Oliver BOZANIC, 14. Michael MCGLINCHEY (12. Troy HEARFIELD 66-), 17. Michael BAIRD (Adam Kwasnik 57-), 19. Matt SIMON

Subs not used: 20. Justin PASFIELD (gk)

Yellow Cards: Bojic 7-, Baird 23-, Griffiths 49-, Porter 81- Red Cards: Nil

Referee: Chris BEATH Crowd: 13,467 at Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane