Hyundai A-League - 2011/2012 - Season 7

Central Coast go top;
changing of the guard in A-League leadership
By Andrew Demack

2011/2012 Hyundai A-League - Round 11
6:45pm, 17 December, 2011
at Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane

Brisbane Roar FC 1
(Kofi Danning 83')
lost to
Central Coast Mariners FC 2
(Mustafa Amini 6', Pedj Bojic 45'+2)

(linked from FFA web site)

Central Coast Mariners surged to the top of the A-League ladder with a hard-fought 2-1 win over Brisbane Roar at Suncorp Stadium last night.

A terrible error from Roar keeper Michael Theoklitos contributed to the Mariners' first goal, but any reasonable neutral observer would have rated the Central Coast good value for their win as they played a canny counter-attacking game throughout the match.

Brisbane had much of the ball, as they always do, but in the first half at least, were short of movement and execution in their passing game, particularly on the left side of the field.

The champions went into this match on a three-game losing streak, and many will be asking, is this a real slump? Have Brisbane been found out?

People within earshot of this reporter were demanding that Postecoglu strengthen the squad before the Asian Champions League campaign, and it obvious to all that the Roar missed injured playmaker Thomas Broich and injured skipped Matt Smith terribly last night.

However, Ange Postecoglu does not strike me a man who changes his mind that quickly. He has set a course for this team. And he intends to stay that course.

The Roar do have weaknesses, and this losing spell is showing them up. I will get to them in a paragraph or two, but I feel it is important to focus our attention for a while on the Central Coast Mariners.

Graeme Arnold wins nobody's award for thinking coach of the year. His style in press conferences is a long way short of cerebral. But what he has built is a team with a massively strong spine, and he has developed some super-talented young players.

The defensive pairing of Alex Wilkinson and Patrick Zwaanswijk is easily the best in the league. And just in front of them in defensive midfield is Rostyn Griffiths, whose only match in the league is his opposite number from this match.

Pedj Bojic and Josh Rose are modern full backs with all the right attributes: a great motor to get up and down the pitch, good skills on the ball and an eye for goal. In the Mariners' formation is vital that the fullbacks get forward to provide width in attack, and Bojic and Rose do this ever so well.

And the rest of the midfield (McGlinchey, Hutchinson and Mustafa Amini) is going so well that Oliver Bozanic has been pushed to the bench.

But up front is where the Mariners have improved from last season: Bernie Ibini-Isei alongside Matty Simon. Simon has the muscle and the persistence and the consistency. Bernie provides the pace and the flash. They are a great pair.

The Mariners play a diamond 4-4-2, with Griffiths the defensive part of the diamond and young Musty Amini the pointy bit. The jewel in the crown. This kid has presence, pace, vision, and a great shot.

He will be making life difficult for defenders right across the A-League, and he was certainly a thorn in the side of Brisbane last night. Sure, Theoklitos gifted him a great opportunity but Amini was good enough to capitalise, and the finish was just superb.

The Mariners' second goal, just before half-time, was symptomatic of the whole first half.

Brisbane's left side trio was Murdocca, Stefanutto and Rocky Visconte. The Roar's 4-3-3 usually divides itself into two passing triangles, one on the left and one on the right.

And if those triangles don't provide constant movement, they can become predictable. Visconte and Stefanutto were far too static in the first half, and got hemmed into the touchline, by Boijic and McGlinchey.

Stefanutto was reduced to always looking to pass back infield, and on numerous times McGlinchey was able to make the intercept. One such occasion the Mariners won the ball from Stefanutto, got it forward to Simon, who found Bojic surging forward into space.

With left back Stefanutto stranded way upfield, Jurman and Adnan were too slow getting across in cover, and Bojic buried the ball into the corner of Theoklitos's goal.

On the other side of the pitch, Nichols, Nakajima-Farran and Franjic were having much more success, and fashioned the only good chance that the Roar had in the first half, feeding Berisha for a snapshot that Ryan just saved low to his left.

But the Roar's passing system was under severe pressure. Paartalu needed to step into midfield more to provide the link between the left and right-sided triangles, but he was pushed back by the defensive pressure of Amini and Simon.

Nichols was often receiving the ball under pressure from Hutchinson or Rose, and on several occasions his first touch let him down. Franjic, and to a lesser extent Nakajima-Farran, were on top in their battles, but it wasn't enough to create good chances for Berisha.

Postecoglu re-shaped matters at half-time.

Jack Hingert replaced Shane Stefanutto, and this was a very good move. Hingert was able to cut back in from the touchline, and provide a threat through his movement and dribbling. Visconte changed his positioning so that he wasn't hemmed in on the touchline, but his lack of pace is still a handicap in an attacking player if you want him to be able to go past defenders.

The improvement on the left was matched on the right side as well when Kofi Danning came on for Mitch Nichols. Kofi's touch is no better, in fact he sometimes seems to be dribbling the ball with his knees, but he is fast and mobile, and he gave the Roar attack some impetus, and finally some hope with a good goal.

Danning received a pass from Franjic that opened up the space for him at the top corner of the box. His shot took a very helpful deflection from Zwaanswijk that wrong-footed Matt Ryan, and the score was 1-2.

Despite the home team's huffing and puffing, that was the final score.

Brisbane Roar are not in crisis. Maybe they are in a slump. But mostly what has happened is that the reserves who have replaced Broich and Henrique (and Smith) are not as good as the first-choice players. And the lower-tier stars (Murdocca, Nichols, Nakajima-Farran) who have to assume the role of playmaker in the absence of Broich, are not finding the space or the killer pass.

In the second half of this match, it was obvious that Berisha was deciding to come deeper to get more involved in the game. This really helped, as he started to play like a false nine, which enabled the likes of Danning to get forward into the box.

In the absence of Broich, Brisbane need to find a way to score. Berisha's involvement in build-up play might sometimes mean he won't be in the poacher's position to score. But the first half of this match showed quite conclusively that if Paartalu is pushed back in to the centre circle through the defensive pressure of the opposition, then Berisha needs to drop deeper to provide more option for the left and right-sided midfield triangles.

This little run of defeats also points up the fact that the team had two superstars last year: Thomas Broich and Matt McKay. With Broich injured, the gaping hole left by McKay in leadership, in passing, in vision, in ball-winning, even in goal-scoring -- is noticeable to all.

2011/2012 Hyundai A-League - Round 11
6:45pm, 17 December, 2011
at Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane

Brisbane Roar FC 1
(Kofi Danning 83')
lost to
Central Coast Mariners FC 2
(Mustafa Amini 6', Pedj Bojic 45'+2)

    Crowd: 10,006


    Brisbane Roar FC :
    Player listing:
    1. Michael THEOKLITOS (gk), 3. Shane STEFANUTTO (c) (19. Jack HINGERT 46), 4. Matt JURMAN, 5. Ivan FRANJIC, 6. Erik PAARTALU, 7. Besart BERISHA, 8. Massimo MURDOCCA (18. Luke BRATTAN 65), 11. Issey NAKAJIMA-FARRAN, 14. Rocky VISCONTE, 16. Mohamed ADNAN, 17. Mitch NICHOLS (9. Kofi DANNING 57)

    Substitutes not used: 20. Andrew REDMAYNE (rgk)

    Coach: Ange Postecoglou

    Yellow Cards: Nil
    Red Cards: Nil

    Central Coast Mariners FC :
    Player listing:
    1. Matthew RYAN (gk), 3. Joshua ROSE, 4. Pedj BOJIC, 6. Patrick ZWAANSWIJK, 7. John HUTCHINSON, 8. Rostyn GRIFFITHS (11. Oliver BOZANIC tba), 9. Bernie IBINI-ISEI (12.Troy HEARFIELD 68), 14. Michael McGLINCHEY, 18. Alex WILKINSON (c), 19. Matthew SIMON, 22. Mustafa AMINI (2. Daniel McBREEN 77)

    Substitutes not used: 20. Justin PASFIELD (rgk)

    Coach: Graham Arnold

    Yellow Cards: John HUTCHINSON 27, Mustafa AMINI 76
    Red Cards: Nil

    Referee: Peter Green 8/10
    Assistant referees: Ashley Beecham, Brad Hobson; Fourth official: Adam Kersey

    BOTN Player Points:
    > 2. Pedj Bojic (CCM) - great game, great goal
    2. Michael McGlinchey (CCM)
    2. Ivan Franjic (BR) -bright and busy

    Pitch rating: 8/10

    Game rating: 8/10

    Match Report and ratings: By Demack

Nil photos

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.

Crafted lovingly by hand
By fans, for fans
© Magic Llama 2000 - 2011