Hyundai A-League - 2011/2012 - Season 7 Finals Series

Roar in to Grand Final
By Chris Dunkerley

2011/2012 Hyundai A-League - 1v2 Major Semi Final (2nd leg)
5pm, Sunday 8 April,
at Central Coast Stadium, Gosford

Central Coast Mariners FC 2
(Patrick Zwaanswijk 29’, Adam Kwasnik 32’)
lost to
Brisbane Roar FC 3
(Thomas Broich 2’, Mitch Nichols 25', Henrique 68')
[Roar 5-2 on aggregate]

(Photo by Lowenna Rappo)

Brisbane Roar FC will host the Hyundai A-League Grand Final for the second year in a row as they ended winners at Gosford last night, withholding a strong comeback from Central Coast Mariners FC, to win the major semi-final 5-2 on aggregate.

The home side was given a boost before the game, with all 21 current players lining up to have a photo taken with the Premiers 'Plate' after a brief presentation by FFA Chairman Ben Buckley. No medals were presented and no fireworks were fired - showing the bias against the prestige of league winners by the FFA establishment, who favour 'their own' finals series playoffs.

The visitors came into the second leg with a distinct head start, leading 2-0 without a ball kicked - any aditional goal would provide extra bonus under the away goals rule. Both teams had a tough ACL game during the week to add to the permutations, with the Roar having to fly back from Korea. So a large hill to climb for the home a side, not least because of Roar's unbeaten record at Gosford.

With people still finding their seats from the pre-game beer queues, the hill became a mountain within two minutes - in fact 1min 1sec. After a first foray down the left by the Roar, John Sutton was judged to have fouled Massimo Murdocca out on the left. From 30m Thomas Broich lifted the ball over the tightly packed mob of players around the penalty spot. As the clock ticked past 1min the ball cleared them and bounced high and fast and beat Mathew Ryan, settling into the top right hand corner of the net. 0-1 and now 0-3 on aggregate.

Stunned by this setback it took the Mariners some time to ramp up their level opposition but as the game passed the 17th minute they were just on top of a still flying Roar - with Patrick Zwaanswijck hitting one over the bar then Joshua Rose made a run into the area, beating three in orange, but his shot could not get past Brisbane's 'keeper Michael Theoklitos. Two minutes later it was that man again, down the left and he swung a curling cross onto the head of Adam Kwasnik, but the header went just wide down the left.

Then in the 25th minute the mountain attained Kosciuszko proportions. Henrique had given a warning minutes before when he cut into the area but his shot was blocked by Mat Ryan however that had led to a quick Mariners counter-attack by Rose, Kwasnik and McGlinchey.

This time a lone diagonal ball found Henrique who pushed the ball through to Mitch Nichols surging from the left, with no-one tracking. The midfielder beat Ryan by cuting the ball back to the inside of the left post. 0-2 [0-4]

Adam Kwasnik was being a thorn in Brisbane's side, and in the 27th minute he again got onto a cross at the far post, but couldn't beat his marker.

A piece of Dutch magic, a Patrick Zwaanswijk goal, upped the level for the Mariners. After four raids on the Roar defence, the ball was hit out back out loose into midfield. The big defender had pushed up in support and it fell to him, off a poor touch by Besart Berisha, as he strode forward. With the Roar defence still getting back into formation he spied a gap and powered a daisy-cutting strike from 30m that had heads turning but no attempt to stop it as it bulged the net. 1-2 [1-4]

Three minutes later Adam Kwasnik got a reward for his efforts, when he laid into a ball touched across in the area by Olly Bozanic and the striker steered his shot into the net around the keeper. 2-2 [2-4]

The Mariners were now clearly in the ascendent, penning up the visitors for the rest of the half. A cry for intended, blatent and clear hand-ball in the area perpetrated by Henrique was turned down by the referee much to the fury of the crowd and growing frustration of the Coast players. Worth a penalty and a yellow card ... but not given.

After the break the Roar looked back into the game, with the ball getting more to Berisher, though the Mariners continued to be on top. Four minutes in however Brisbane cleared a header off the goal-line.

With the Mariners looking for more goals the Roar's imports especially dug into their bag of theatrical tricks. A clear dive in simulation by Henrique on Pedj Bojic was missed by both the nearby Assistant and the Referee. Together with the handball incident this would/should have seen the visitors down to ten-men. One can ponder on the inexperienced set of officials appointed for a must-win leg of a Major Semi-final.

A surging run by Tom Rogic past 4 defenders may have ended better, and in the 63rd minute Oliver Bozanic drew a finger-tip save from the Roar 'keeper.

A 'walk' would also have made it hard for Henrique to score in the 67th minute, which he did. A long ball out of defence by the Roar evaded John Sutton and sped along to Berisha, who picked out the run of Henrique. He squeezed between the chasing Rose and 'keeper Ryan to knock it into the empty net. 2-3 [2-5]

That was pretty much game and tie over, though Zwaanswijk had another long-range attempt and John Hutchinson got more forward to snap a shot off a rebound, just over the crossbar.

A deserved lead overall to the Brisbane side, who now go through to the finals series Grand Final on Sunday 22 April in Brisbane; so have some respite (though they have to host Ulsan Hyundai next week).

The Mariners have to back up again at Gosford next Saturday to defeat Perth Glory to get to the Grand Final; which if they did would come after a trip to Seongnam. Doing it the hard way!

Victorious Roar coach Ange Postecoglou said, "I've never been prouder of a group of players than I am right now." Postecoglou added "They've been absolutely magnificent. We've had a really tough week and to come here, win the game, score three goals and not even think about sitting back at any stage. It's easy for me to have that philosophy, but I'm not out there running around and having to do that; I just think the players were magnificent."

Mariners coach Graham Arnold said that in a crazy way he was happy that his team would have to play again next week .. "It might sound crazy but I’m very happy that we’re not having a weekend off and that we’ll play Saturday." “When you have a weekend off it can flatten you and it can kill your momentum … hopefully we’ll play like that [next weekend].”

“We didn’t get the big decisions today,” he said. “What we can control is our football performance and it was very good”, he added. “It was a great game of football, a great spectacle. You’ve got to give full credit to Brisbane, they’ve had a tough week and they’ve put on a great performance. If we got totally outplayed and we were not at the races, then there’d be concern.”

2011/2012 Hyundai A-League - 1v2 Major Semi Final (2nd leg)
5pm, Sunday 8 April,
at Central Coast Stadium, Gosford

Central Coast Mariners FC 2
(Patrick Zwaanswijk 29’, Adam Kwasnik 32’)

lost to
Brisbane Roar FC 3
(Thomas Broich 2’, Mitch Nichols 25', Henrique 68')

[Roar 5-2 on aggregate]

    Crowd: 9,846 [looked 11.5k]


    Central Coast Mariners FC :
    Player listing:
    1. Mathew RYAN (gk), 3. Joshua ROSE, 4. Pedj BOJIC, 6. Patrick ZWAANSWIJK (16. Trent SAINSBURY +73’), 7. John HUTCHINSON, 11. Oliver BOZANIC, 14. Michael MCGLINCHEY, 17. Tomas ROGIC (22. Mustafa AMINI +73’), 18. Alex WILKINSON (c), 19. John SUTTON (9. Bernie IBINI-ISEI +77’), 23. Adam KWASNIK
    Substitutes not used: 20. Justin PASFIELD (rgk), 2. Daniel MCBREEN

    Coach: Graham Arnold

    Yellow Cards: Adam Kwasnik 16', Patrick Zwaanswijk 58', Pedj Bojic '78, Trent Sainsbury 90'+1, Wilkinson 90+2’
    Red Cards: Nil

    Brisbane Roar FC :
    Player listing:
    1. Michael THEOKLITOS gk), 2. Matthew SMITH (c), 3. Shane STEFANUTTO (19. Jack HINGERT +71’), 5. Ivan FRANJIC (4. Matthew JURMAN +84’), 6. Erik PAARTALU, 7. Besart BERISHA, 8. Massimo MURDOCCA (18. Luke BRATTAN +59’), 10. HENRIQUE, 16. Mohamed ADNAN, 17. Mitchell NICHOLS, 22. Thomas BROICH
    Substitutes not used: 20. Andrew REDMAYNE (rgk), 24. Nick FITZGERALD

    Coach: Ange Postecoglou

    Yellow Cards: Luke Brattan 76’
    Red Cards: Nil

    Referee: Jarred Gillett 5/10
    Assistant referees: Ashley Beecham, Matthew Cheeseman; Fourth official: Ryan Shepheard

    BOTN Player Points:

    3. Joshua Rose (CCM)
    2. Matt Smith (BR)
    1. Patrick Zwaanswijk (CCM)

    Pitch rating: 7/10 - getting better

    Game rating: 8/10 - edge of the seat stuff most of the time, except for leaping to ones feet for goals and refereeing decisions

    Match report and ratings by Chris Dunkerley; Photos by Lowenna Rappo

Photo gallery:

(HAL 7 Premiers the Mariners were at last presented with the 'Plate')

(Mariners coaches shake hands with the officials)

A-League: 2011-2012 Season
BOTN Team Podcast - No.3
... and then there were 4!


Disclaimer: The content of this report is the responsibility of the writer. Stats are either as recorded by the writer at the game, or as supplied by FFA, or a mixture - no responsibility can be taken for their compete accuracy although we do strive for that. Any photos used here, unless attributed, are as implicitly supplied by FFA and used by assumed permission.

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