Ten man Mariners see Victory snatched from their grasp

Three minutes of madness have seen the Central Coast Mariners farewell 2010 with a frustrating 2-1 loss to the Melbourne Victory in tonight’s Week 21 Hyundai A-League meeting at Bluetongue Stadium.

Three minutes of madness have seen the Central Coast Mariners farewell 2010 with a frustrating 2-1 loss to the Melbourne Victory in tonight-s Week 21 Hyundai A-League meeting at Bluetongue Stadium.

Encouraged by a crowd of over 12,000 spectators, the Mariners began the match brightly, attacking with flair and defending with a steely resolve. Forced to play without a man for the majority of the second half the Mariners eventually succumbed to a resolute Melbourne side.

Graham Arnold was pleased and proud with the performance of his charges against a side many rate as one of the yardsticks of the competition.

“I-m really proud of how the boys played and dug in after the sending off,” said Arnold.

“Everyone says that Melbourne along with Brisbane are the yardsticks in the competition. For me in that first half there was only one team on the field

“In the end it took a rebound to break us down, but that-s football. Sometimes the bounce just doesn-t go your way.”

Arnold was at pains to not blame young ‘keeper Mathew Ryan for the match defining goal.

“I told him to keep his head up and that he-s brilliant all year for us. He-s a young kid and young kids make mistakes. He-ll learn from it and become a better player,” said Arnold.

Mariners captain Alex Wilkinson felt the side let an opportunity slip but was proud of the efforts of his teammates.

“I thought in the first half we played really well and were in complete control of the match. Obviously the match changed with the sending off, and Victory took their chances. Everyone dug in, and as Arnie said the fatigue got the better of us. I hope the fans come back and support us when we play Wellington,” Wilkinson said.

Buoyed with the confidence that comes from winning three consecutive matches at their Bluetongue Stadium fortress, the Mariners had every intention of taking the game to Melbourne from the opening whistle. Oliver Bozanic showed a clean pair of heels to accelerate past the Melbourne defence in the opening minute. His attempt to square the ball to a lurking Patricio Perez was ultimately unsuccessful.

The Mariners were in an ominous mood, and it was Michael McGlinchey - in the middle of a period of devastating attacking form - who went agonizingly close to opening the scoring in the fifth minute. McGlinchey skillfully kept his drive low, but was denied by an equally outstanding save from Melbourne custodian Michael Petkovic.

Petkovic was kept on his toes as each foray into Melbourne territory promised a chance of a Mariners goal. Graham Arnold promised fluent football, and he would be delighted with the attacking start his charges made.

After an extended stint on the sidelines, Perez was beginning to show the benefits of the match fitness he has gained in recent weeks. The Argentine stepped up to take a free kick in the 12th minute, and he managed to evade the wall forcing Petkovic into his third save of the match.

Not to be outdone by his more experienced counterpart, Mathew Ryan demonstrated his considerable class with a diving save to deny Carlos Hernandez in the visitors first real attacking opportunity of the evening.

The end-to-end pace of the match continued, and 19-year-old defender Trent Sainsbury showed exceptional pace to challenge Mate Duganzdic, who is arguably one of the quickest players in the Hyundai A-League.

In every encounter between these two sides, inevitably there is a clash between Kevin Muscat and Matt Simon. The two ultra-competitive players love nothing more than trying to best each other; indeed their matchup epitomizes the battle between striker and defender. The season-high crowd rose as one when the two clashed heads innocuously at a corner, and enjoyed getting on the veterans back next time he touched the ball.

Keen to make an impact, and after making several probing runs, Perez was next to try his luck, which again was well saved. A McGlinchey cross found Patrick Zwaanswijk on the back post, but the experienced defender couldn-t quite nod the ball in on the acute angle.

The Mariners attacking flair deserved reward, and it almost came in the 25th minute with what would prove to be the best chance of the half. Bozanic was able to make an incisive run down the flank and whip in a cross to Adam Kwasnik who had the presence of mind to flick it on to Matt Simon. The striker took the time to compose himself, too much as it turned out. The big striker was disappointed with himself that he missed the target.

The Mariners survived a late scare from a familiar face as Tom Pondeljak pushed his shot just wide in the dying stages of the half.

Honors were even at the interval but it was the hosts who had the better of the running.

Disappointed to not have the lead, the Mariners came out determined to attack the Victory. Joshua Rose, who has been such a threat when he pushes up from the back made an elusive run down the sideline that bamboozled the Melbourne defence. His cross, which had the intention of finding Adam Kwasnik instead found Victory defender Adrian Leijer. Nevertheless it was still a positive result for the home side with Leijer-s stray boot ensuring that the ball would rocket into the back of the net.

With a 1-nil lead, the yellow and navy looked set to continue their attacking momentum but that was to change in the 53rd minute. Adam Kwasnik was given an early mark for a second bookable offence. The send-off resulted in a tactical change for Arnold-s team with both Chris Doig and Daniel McBreen introduced into the match to bolster defence and attack respectively.

With a numerical advantage the Victory sensed an opportunity to seize momentum in the game. However a committed defensive performance from every Mariners player continued to frustrate the Victory attack. Robbie Kruse was barely able to get a touch, and Hernandez was reduced to taking shots from well outside the area.

The Mariners launched a number of counter-attacks but couldn-t quite manage to make the most of their opportunities. They would later come to rue their missed chances.

Being a man down for over half an hour eventually took a toll on the home side, and a nightmarish period of two goals in three minutes saw the points, and second spot slide from their grasp.

A cross from substitute Ricardinho found Evan Berger who-s resulting header was well saved by Mat Ryan. The young ‘keeper was left stranded on the ground as Grant Brebner played the loose ball back to Diogo Ferreria who drove the ball home.

The Mariner-s frustration was compounded in the 88th minute when Brebner pounced on a spilled ball from Ryan to ultimately seal the three points for the visitors.

Whilst the Mariners have nothing to show for their evening of toil, the attacking flair they showed through out the match should give them confidence ahead of their clash with the Wellington Phoenix.

2011 beckons, and the Mariners will be looking to bounce back.

The Central Coast Mariners next match of the Hyundai A-League 2010/11 season will be against Wellington Phoenix next Sunday, 9 January at Bluetongue Stadium. Kick-off is at 5:00pm AEDT and tickets are available by by CLICKING HERE or by phoning 132 849.

Match Details

Central Coast Mariners 1 (Leijer 48- (OG)) Melbourne Victory 2 (Ferreira 85-, Brebner 88-)

Central Coast Mariners: 20. Mathew RYAN (gk), 3. Joshua ROSE, 6. Patrick ZWAANSWIJK, 7. John HUTCHINSON (23. Mustafa AMINI 89-), 10. Patricio PEREZ (2. Daniel McBREEN 63-), 11. Oliver BOZANIC, 14. Michael McGLINCHEY, 16. Trent SAINSBURY (17. Chris DOIG 73-), 18. Alex WILKINSON (c), 19. Matt SIMON, 23. Adam KWASNIK.

Subs not Used: 30. Paul HENDERSON (gk).

Yellow Cards: None Red Cards: Kwasnik 53-

Melbourne Victory: 1. Michael PETKOVIC (gk), 2. Kevin MUSCAT (c), 3. Mate DUGANDZIC (13. Diogo FERRERIA 46-), 8. Grant BREBNER, 11. Marvin ANGULO (19. Evan BERGER 77-), 12. Rodrigo VARGAS, 14. Billy CELESKI (9. RICARDINHO 71-), 15. Tom PONDELJAK, 16. Carlos HERNANDEZ, 21. Robbie KRUSE, 23. Adrian LEIJER.

Subs not Used: 20. Sebastian MATTEI (gk).

Yellow Cards: Petkovic 90+4- Red Cards: None

Referee: Ben WILLIAMS Crowd: 12,409 at Bluetongue Stadium, Gosford.