A STOIC Central Coast Mariners outfit secured a well-earned point away to Melbourne Victory on Saturday evening, drawing 2-2 with Ange Postecoglou’s team in an Etihad Stadium classic.
A STOIC Central Coast Mariners outfit secured a well-earned point away to Melbourne Victory on Saturday evening, drawing 2-2 with Ange Postecoglou-s team in an Etihad Stadium classic.
Playing with ten men for over 40 minutes of the contest following the sending off of Dutch defender Patrick Zwaanswijk just five minutes into the second stanza, Graham Arnold-s team dug deep to ensure they extended their unbeaten run to four games.
Evergreen marksman Daniel McBreen again underlined his importance to the Mariners unit in the match. McBreen netted a first half brace to take his personal goalscoring tally to seven this campaign.
Indeed, it was McBreen who got the Mariners off to the perfect start in what was a first half played at a relentless tempo.
Just four minutes in freshly capped Qantas Socceroos midfielder Tomas Rogic delivered a delightful pass to former LOSC Lille attacker Mile Sterjovski. Sterjovski showed his class by lifting the ball into the box with the outside of his right boot, accurately finding McBreen. High on confidence the former North Queensland Fury striker clinically stroked the ball into the back of the net with his left boot, leaving Victory custodian Nathan Coe flapping at air.
However Central Coast-s lead didn-t last long with boom youngster Andrew Nabbout levelling proceedings just six minutes later. The impressive New Zealand international Marco Rojas fired in a wicked cross from the right, and Nabbout made no mistake in heading the ball past Mathew Ryan to restore parity to the clash.
Both Arnold-s men and Postecoglou-s charges were showing endeavour and enterprise and it was the hottest striker in the Hyundai A-League in McBreen who would give the yellow and navy the advantage again on 22 minutes.
Trent Sainsbury started the move by playing an accurate long pass to the striker. Mixing skill with strength, McBreen turned Melbourne defender Petar Franjic inside out before sending a right foot shot beyond Coe. McBreen-s second goal of the game marked his seventh of the new campaign and sixth in the last three fixtures as the former Falkirk man continued his rich vein of form.
But while the Mariners did largely continue to create the better of the opportunities to extend their lead in the first 45, they were left to rue some slack defending shortly before the break. Mark Milligan headed past Ryan via a free kick from Billy Celeski. Unfortunately for the Mariners, Milligan had the luxury of time and space to send the header home for the Victory after he evaded his marker and was left all alone close to goal.
Shortly after the half time break Zwaanswijk was shown his second yellow card of the contest, having earned the ire of referee Strebre Delovski for preventing Victory from taking a free kick quickly in the first half. Delovski adjudged the former Utrecht stopper to have entered a challenge leading with his elbow. The loss of Zwaanswijk changed the flow of the game with the Mariners needing to shift to a four-four-one formation in order to withstand wave after wave of Melbourne attack.
And while there were a few nervy moments for Arnold-s team as Victory pushed forward at every opportunity for the remainder of the round 7 meeting, the Central Coast defence fought bravely to keep Victory-s raids at bay.
Indeed, the closest Melbourne came to snatching a winner was in the 67th minute when the classy Rojas swivelled in the box before shooting at goal. However, Mariners right back Pedj Bojic was positioned perfectly on the line and managed to clear the danger.
Like Central Coast, Victory were reduced to ten men before Delovski-s final whistle as creative midfielder Marcos Flores picked up his second yellow ticket for a foul on young Mariners defender Trent Sainsbury.
After the match, Central Coast Mariners boss Graham Arnold praised his side's effort and character.
"The character of the boys was first class again tonight," he said. "They never disappoint me."
"I felt that the first half from both teams was a fantastic. It was unfortunate that the red card (Zwaanswijk's) happened in the second half because then we had to change our style completely."
Although his side did have to alter their approach to the game after going down to ten men, Arnold revealed that his team routinely practices the situation on the training paddock with a group of eight players defending against ten attackers. The work on the training track undeniably paid dividends.
"We regularly do 'ten-v-eight' with two banks of four, the opposition with ten players to practice in case that happens," he said.
"I think you saw with one man short and with the two banks of four we made it tough for them to get through."
"There was some wonderful defending by the boys," he concluded.
Central Coast Mariners play their next Hyundai A-League fixture at home to Brisbane Roar next Sunday 25 November at Bluetongue Stadium, Gosford. The match will see the Premiership winning Mariners take on the Championship winning Roar in a game expected to a draw huge interest from both sets of fans. Kick-off is 5:00pm.
Tickets are available from Ticketek.
Melbourne Victory 2 (Nabbout 10-, Milligan 40-) Central Coast Mariners 2 (McBreen 4-, 22-) Etihad Stadium, Melbourne
Melbourne Victory: 39. Nathan Coe (Gk), 3. Adama Traore, 4. Petar Franjic, 5. Mark Milligan, 9. Marcos Flores, 11. Marco Rojas, 13. Diogo Ferreira, 14. Billy Celeski, 19. Isaka Cernak (6. Leigh Broxham 79-), 23. Adrian Leijer (c), 26. Andrew Nabbout (27. Christopher Christaldo 71-)
Substitutes not used: 1. Tando Velaphi (Gk), 8. Jonathan Bru
Yellow cards: Franjic 61-, Flores 65-, 90
Red cards: Flores 90-
Central Coast Mariners: 1. Mathew Ryan (Gk), 2. Daniel McBreen, 3. Joshua Rose, 4. Pedj Bojic, 6. Patrick Zwaanswijk, 7. John Hutchinson (c), 10. Tomas Rogic (5. Zachary Anderson 53-), 14. Michael McGlinchey (9. Bernie Ibini 83-), 16. Trent Sainsbury, 18. Nick Montgomery, 21. Mile Sterjovski
Substitutes not used: 20. Justin Pasfield (Gk), 8. Adriano Pellegrino
Yellow cards: Zwaanswijk 6-, 50-, Montgomery 81-, Hutchinson 90+2-
Red cards: Zwaanswijk 50-
Referee: Strebre Delovski