Central Coast Mariners will enter the brief summer Hyundai A-League pause for the 2015 AFC Asian Cup full of confidence after Phil Moss’s side claimed a well-earned 2-0 win over Melbourne City in Gosford on Sunday.
A double from livewire attacker Mitchell Duke helped steer the Mariners past John van’t Schip’s side on the banks of the Brisbane Water – the win coming after an improved attacking display by the yellow and navy and a determined defensive performance which saw Liam Reddy produce a number of fine saves to thwart City’s many attacking weapons.
The Mariners took the lead early in the contest when Duke capitalised on a precise pass from attacking midfield whiz Glen Trifiro. Seizing his opportunity, Duke slid an accurate effort of his own beyond Tando Velaphi to score his first goal since the opening day of the campaign.
In the 27th minute Duke nabbed his third goal of the season, in the process doubling his side’s advantage. Hungarian midfielder Richard Vernes showed good determination to win the ball on the edge of the area and poke it into Duke’s path, before the Mariners number nine let fly with a firm strike that beat Velaphi for pace.
Central Coast didn’t have it all their own way in the first 45 however – twice Reddy needed to produce some of his best work to keep the City slickers at bay. In the 38th minute Reddy denied Slovenian star Robert Koren, and just before half time the former Sydney United 58 shot-stopper showed cat-like reflexes to thwart Aaron Mooy from close range.
13 minutes after the interval the visitors were reduced to ten men after Velaphi raced out of his area in an attempt to beat the dynamic Duke to the ball. Unfortunately for the City custodian Duke got a touch on the ball just ahead of the former Perth Glory man. Velaphi then clattered into Duke, and while referee Peter Green dismissed Velaphi, Duke – who may otherwise have netted a hat trick – was also forced from the field with an injury.
Despite having a numerical advantage the ten men of City showed good enterprise as they attempted to find a way to reduce the deficit. In the 77th minute it was Reddy to the rescue again as he denied former Muangthong United midfielder Erik Paartalu.
Duke’s injury on the hour mark opened an opportunity for new Central Coast Mariners recruit Travis Major to make his Hyundai A-League debut, and throughout his 30 minute cameo the former Blacktown City FC man showed he has the qualities to worry defences in Australia’s top flight. In the 84th minute Major put a ripping cross into the box which fellow substitute Matthew Sim rose to meet, but couldn’t quite direct on target.
Melbourne had a late opportunity to reduce the arrears through James Brown, however the Mariners defence did well to block his shot and see out the game as 2-0 victors.
Following the contest Central Coast Mariners boss Moss said that the win was the result of his players and staff sticking together, and believing in the Club’s football vision.
“It just shows what our dressing room is made of and how much desire and camaraderie there is between the players and the staff,” Moss said. “That’s a very rewarding victory I think it matches the performance. It’s nothing less than the players deserve.”
“It’s an accumulation of belief and desire and confidence and I think last week was a real turning point for us at home to score three goals. I think that gave us the confidence to know that we can score goals and that we’re good enough to score goals. I thought we looked threatening just about every time we went forward tonight and that’s something that we have been working on.”
“I keep saying that we are rebuilding a football team and stage one was to play football, and stage two is to turn good football into effective football – we’re starting to do that more and more now.”
“I have to give full credit to the senior players for keeping the dressing room together throughout a long spell without a win. I am just over the moon for the players tonight and all the staff.”
Moss said his team cannot afford to get ahead of itself, and took time to dedicate the win to Central Coast boxing legend Troy Waters.
“Let’s not get carried away, it’s only a win. It’s four points from six to start the New Year and it’s a sign that 2015 is going to be a better year than the end of 2014.”
“We have to get back on the training pitch next week and work hard and make sure that we turn these four points into seven [when we play Sydney FC].”
“I’d like to dedicate that win to Troy Waters who is a Central Coast ex World Boxing Champion. He has just been through a terrible time with his family with cancer, and he’s just got out of hospital after a bone-marrow transplant. Troy came into the dressing room just before kick-off and gave the boys a few words of encouragement, and I really do think that that sent them out there with just that little bit of extra inspiration,” Moss said.
Central Coast Mariners players and staff will be given a few days off before the Club begins its preparations for its next home match against Sydney FC [January 24], plus the second half of the Hyundai A-League 2014/15 season.
Central Coast Mariners 2 (Duke 12’, 27’)
Melbourne City 0
Central Coast Stadium, Gosford
Referee: Peter Green
Substitutes not used: 1. Matthew NASH (Gk), 2. Storm ROUX,
Yellow cards: Poscoliero
Red cards: Nil
Melbourne City: 3. Robbie WIELAERT, 5. Erik PAARTALU, 6. Aaron MOOY, 10. Robert KOREN, 11. Damien DUFF, 15. David WILLIAMS, 19. Benjamin GARUCCIO, 20. Tando VELAPHI (Gk) (1. Andrew REDMAYNE (Gk) 60’), 23. Mate DUGANDZIC (14. James BROWN 53’), 24. Patrick KISNORBO (C), 27. Ross ARCHIBALD (13. Jonatan GERMANO 46’)
Substitutes not used: 7. Iain RAMSAY, 18. Paulo RETRE
Yellow cards: Brown
Red cards: Velaphi