Hyundai A-League - 2011/2012 - Season 7

This derby didn’t disappoint
By Paul Green (Corinthian)

2011/2012 Hyundai A-League - Round 15
5:30pm, Saturday 14 January, 2012
at Central Coast Stadium, Gosford

Central Coast Mariners FC 1
(Patrick Zwaanswijk 60')
drew with
Newcastle Jets FC 1
(Labinot Haliti 17')

(Linked from FFA web site)

As derby games go the F3 variety between Central Coast Mariners and Newcastle Jets usually serves up some pretty fierce fare and Saturday night’s A-League game at Bluetongue Stadium, Gosford, between these old rivals didn’t disappoint.

It was in stark contrast to the city-provincial derby in Sydney the previous weekend when only the Mariners showed much self-belief.

Unlike then, both teams showed clearly that they believed they could win and caution was at a premium.

Newcastle Jets, who took a first-half lead, had begun the game ready for take-off from the opening whistle and despite their poor record on the road and their position near the foot of the ladder they showed no signs of being cowered by the table-topping Mariners whatsoever.

Clearly, when it was all over and the Mariners had salvaged a point thanks to a superb near-post header from veteran defender, Patrick Zwaanswijk, it was Newcastle who felt the most cheated, having attacked with menace for much of the game, vulnerable only to the odd, swift counter-attack or the well-orchestrated set-piece. And so it was here, as the decisive corner was delightfully placed on the perfect trajectory to deny Jets’ keeper Ben Kennedy a look-in and Zwaanswijk took his chance to deliver his trademark finish, which allowed the home team to stretch their unbeaten run to a record 13 games.

Newcastle, without an away win in twelve months, were left to rue their lack of a clinical finisher in the box, even if Labinot Haliti had given them a 19th minute lead from a text-book move and finish early in the piece.

Sadly for the Jets and their fans, cross after cross provided by the likes of Jeremy Brockie in particular went begging, letting Central Coast off the hook, more often than any decent striker would be proud to admit as their runs into the box or timing to meet crosses was way off most of the time.

Haliti had earlier benefited from a precision cross from the left by Brockie, who had been sent away down the flank by the industrious Ruben Zadkovich, after the latter had intercepted a lazy pass from Mariners’ defender Brad Porter.

Porter, in for the suspended Pedj Bojic, has had better games and was replaced after 55 minutes by striker Daniel McBreen who livened things up considerably for the game-chasing Central Coast.

The formation adopted by both coaches changed more than once during the game as each highly experienced team boss tried to out-think the other.

Beginning with three at the back the Mariners switched things around later as Graham Arnold tried to respond to Gary Van Egmond’s own innovative approach.

It was cat-and-mouse-like that throughout the game.

Asked if he had won the battle of the two coaches, van Egmond responded by saying perhaps he had on this occasion to some extent, but with Mariners sitting pretty at the top of the table and his Jets languishing near the bottom, the battle was far from won just yet.

Newcastle seemed to have most of the answers defensively, with centre back Taylor Regan outstanding.

They also had Ben Kantarovski, good value in any match, putting in another good shift, while Ruben Zadkovich, who was mainly deployed on the right wing, defensively as well as getting involved in many of the moves going forward, had one of his better games.

Switching briefly to the left Zadkovich surprised with his pace and fast thinking as he sent Brockie away for the cross that led to the opening goal.

Brockie’s cross, so crisp and immediate, was gobbled up by Haliti, a player renowned for his deadly work inside the six-yard box, At the near post he met the ball first time, giving the alert Kennedy no chance.

Then, after the break, as the Mariners surged forward with McBreen on and Trent Sainsbury similarly taking over at the back, the Jets had to consider defence an even greater priority with their slender lead.

But they had no answer in the 60th minute.

After Tiago Calvano and Regan had scrambled the ball clear, following a dangerous raid, a corner on the right gave the home team the 'out' they needed.

Oliver Bozanic, who in tandem with the impressive Michael McGlinchey had tormented the Jets down the left all game, was the man to find his defensive team-mate at the near post and the scores were level again with 30 minutes to play.

Raid-after-raid was to be the feature of the game for the last half hour and nether side looked set to be satisfied with just a point.

There was good reason to suppose that both coaches believed they could win it as the delivery from the flanks was good from both sides and good finishers were out on the field more than capable of delivering.

Not only McBreen but 66th minute substitute Adam Kwasnik were showing some toe and more than once shots by both strikers were blocked by the astute legs of Jets’ defenders giving Kennedy ideal protection.

Similarly, Newcastle had every chance to finish things off as journeyman striker, Michael Bridges, had joined the fray around the same time as Kwasnik.

Bridges was barely a split-second too late to convert in the 68th, once again from an excellent cross from the left by the Kiwi Brockie.

There was a first-half penalty that many at the arena were surprised was given, but that was missed by Troy Hearfield for the Mariners in the 22nd minute.

A simple free-kick from McGlinchey, 30 yards out, was delivered to the far post on the right where a clutch of defenders went up trying to ward off Bernie Ibini in particular and the ever-menacing Zwaanswijk.

Referee Matt Gillett, perhaps relying an a call by the assistant on the far side, blew for a penalty, Handball was suggested.

Up stepped Hearfield, rather than reliable defender Zwaanswijk, with the kick placed to the keeper’s left which the youngster Kennedy saved quite easily to deny a quick equaliser for the league leaders.

Reallly derbies often produce draws but not always so much excitement or good football. This one had those in abundance.

Mariners coach Graham Arnold said later, “We expected them to give us a hard game being a derby but I thought over the last 15 minutes we totally dominated them. “We had plan A which was 3-4-3 but some of the boys had some trouble in grasping it, but after we made some changes they gave their all and overall I think the boys adapted well to the new shape.

“It may have been my fault that the boys were a little flat today and were a bit ‘off-ish’. “I gave them two days off after the Sydney win and then it was so hot for the last few days I think that may have ‘flattened’ them. “When we switched to a 4-2-3-1 I think the senior players especially did well.

Van Egmond, coach of the visitors said, "It may have been a points decision over him (Arnold) today, but he has them in first place so he is clearly still in front. “I feel we had the majority of the game, we kept the ball well, maybe we were a little sloppy in the middle at times, but I think we handled them (Central Coast) quite well considering they were eight points clear at the top of the table.

2011/2012 Hyundai A-League - Round 15
5:30pm, Saturday 14 January, 2012
at Central Coast Stadium, Gosford

Central Coast Mariners FC 1
(Patrick Zwaanswijk 60')
drew with
Newcastle Jets FC 1
(Labinot Haliti 17')

    Crowd: 10,904


    Central Coast Mariners FC :
    Player listing:
    1. Mathew RYAN (gk), 3. Joshua ROSE, 5. Brad PORTER (16. Trent SAINSBURY +56’), 6. Patrick ZWAANSWIJK, 7. John HUTCHINSON, 9. Bernie IBINI (23. Adam KWASNIK +66’), 11. Oliver BOZANIC, 12. Troy HEARFIELD, 14. Michael McGLINCHEY, 18. Alex WILKINSON (c), 22. Mustafa AMINI (2. Daniel McBREEN +56’)

    Substitutes not used: 20. Justin PASFIELD (rgk)

    Coach: Graham Arnold

    Yellow Cards: John Hutchinson 45'
    Red Cards: Nil

    Newcastle Jets FC :
    Player listing:
    1. Ben KENNEDY (gk), 2. Taylor REGAN, 4. Nikolai TORPER STANLEY, 5. Tiago CALVANO (13. Sung-Hwan BYUN +63’), 6. Ben KANTAROVSKI, 8. Jeremy BROCKIE, 10. Ruben ZADKOVICH, 14. Labinot HALITI (Ali ABBAS +78’), 18. Marko JESIC (9. Michael BRIDGES +65’), 23. Ryan GRIFFITHS (c), 25. Jacob PEPPER

    Substitutes not used: 19. Matthew NASH (rgk)

    Coach: Gary van Egmond

    Yellow Cards: Tiago Calvano 22', Ben Kantarovski 71'
    Red Cards: Nil

    Referee: Matthew Gillett 7/10
    Assistant referees: Scott Edeling, Allyson Flynn; Fourth official: Kris Griffiths-Jones

    BOTN Player Points:
    3. Taylor Regan (NJ)
    2. Michael McGlinchey (CCM)
    1. Ruben Zadkovich (NJ)

    Pitch rating: 8/10

    Game rating: 8/10

    Match report and ratings: By Paul Green (Corinthian)

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