Hyundai A-League - 2011/2012 - Season 7

Table-topping Mariners
too good for Wellington
By Jeremy Ruane
with the compliments of

2011/2012 Hyundai A-League - Round 20
5:30 pm, Saturday 18 February, 2012
at Central Bluetounge Coast Stadium, Gosford

Central Coast Mariners FC 2
(Tomas Rogic 52', Patrick 83')
Wellington Phoenix FC 0

(2nd goal - Photo by Lowenna Rappo for BOTN)

Hyundai A-League leaders Central Coast Mariners were far too good for third-placed Wellington Phoenix at Bluetongue Stadium on February 18, downing their potential play-off rivals 2-0 in front of 7,845 fans to leave themselves five points clear of second-placed Brisbane Roar with five rounds remaining, and a game in hand to boot.

There was only one team in it in the first forty-five minutes, and such was Central Coast’s dominance that it defied logic how the teams went to the dressing rooms at half-time without the scoreboard operator having been called into action.

The home team began the contest in stirring fashion, Tomas Rogic taking advantage of Manny Muscat’s slip on an atrocious playing surface in the second minute to surge into the penalty area.

Mark Paston approached and forced the young midfielder to the by-line, from where he invited Michael McGlinchey to step forward and let fly. The All White midfielder should have done better than to shoot at his international goalkeeping team-mate - a great chance spurned.

After referee Srebre Delovski briefly earned the ire of the crowd by booking new signing John Sutton for a studs-up tackle on Brent Griffiths, having seconds earlier ignored Vince Lia’s robust challenge on Joshua Rose which left the Central Coast fullback with an elbow injury, only some outstanding defending by stand-in captain Ben Sigmund and saves by Paston kept Wellington in the contest in the tenth minute.

John Hutchinson sent Adam Kwasnik careering down the left - much of what was good about Central Coast’s attacks stemmed from this flank - and he picked out Sutton with his cross.

The striker’s drive was blocked by Paston’s outstretched leg, with the rebound falling invitingly into the stride of Rogic. Sigmund flew in to block the midfielder’s attempt, with the rebound ricocheting into Kwasnik’s path. His screamer was parried by Paston, with the ball falling to the feet of Sutton. Again Sigmund intervened, this time in a fashion which brought the attack to a conclusion.

After Kwasnik had unleashed a tame effort which Paston gratefully smothered, the visitors mounted their first attack of the match half-way through the first half. Paul Ifill, who was generally well contained by Central Coast’s vigilant rearguard, played the ball wide to Leo Bertos, who worked a one-two with the generally poorly performed Tony Lochhead.

The winger’s cross was headed out by Patrick Zwaanswijk to Chris Greenacre, who unleashed a sumptuous left-foot volley on the turn which had Mariners’ goalkeeper Justin Pasfield beaten all ends up, only to land on the roof of the net - the technical excellence of the shot merited due reward in the form of a goal.

But sightings of Central Coast’s goal were few and far between for Wellington in the opening half of the match, as most of the action took place in front of the goal they were defending.

Rogic, Sutton and McGlinchey featured in a probing build-up which culminated in Kwasnik forcing Paston to produce a fine diving save in the 24th minute, while five minutes later the ‘keeper had to shovel the ball round the post after a McGlinchey corner had ricocheted off both Bertos and Sigmund in Wellington’s goalmouth.

Kwasnik and Rose made further in-roads down the left seven minutes before half-time, as Central Coast continued to dominate proceedings, Their efforts culminated in the impressive Rogic - a very promising youngster, this lad - producing a terrific turn and shimmy to engineer the space just outside Wellington’s penalty area from where he unleashed a curling effort which crept narrowly past Paston’s right-hand post.

Wellington managed to hold out to half-time without conceding a goal, but could have gone to the break a goal to the good had fortune favoured them three minutes before the break.

Ifill and Greenacre produced a neat one-two which saw the former’s superb reverse pass in behind Alex Wilkinson affording the latter the space he required to get to the by-line and whip in a low cross to the near post where Dani Sanchez was arriving on cue. Zwaanswijk read the move superbly, and averted the danger.

The visitors were the first team out of the blocks in the second spell, Bertos whipping in a cross which Pasfield was at full stretch to turn to safety. If you could call directing the ball out to Ifill turning it to safety, that is.

Wellington’s talisman stepped inside and unleashed a curling effort which had Pasfield successfully diving in the opposite direction to keep the ball out, only this time he saw his save rebound off the effort of Wilkinson. Before Greenacre could bounce on the loose ball, Pasfield recovered to finally hang onto the sphere, much to his relief.

Central Coast responded by taking the lead in the 52nd minute. A tackle by Lia on Pedj Bojic just outside the area saw the ball land at the feet of Rogic, who side-stepped a challenge before curling home a beauty beyond Paston’s flailing fingertips from twenty yards.

The goal was richly deserved, such had been the home team’s first half dominance, and they looked to build on their hard-earned advantage within minutes of gaining it. Sigmund again thwarted the danger as Kwasnik let fly following Sutton’s knock-down of a Hutchinson throw-in in the 54th minute, while from McGlinchey’s resulting corner, Rostyn Griffiths clipped the top of the crossbar with an unchallenged header.

Wellington responded through Manny Muscat, whose surging run through the midfield culminated in him combining with Sanchez for the ultimate benefit of Bertos, only for Pasfield to greedily grab his drive.

Just before the hour mark, Sigmund broke up a Central Coast attack and instigated one of Wellington’s making. Lia led the counter-thrust, although it was the off-the-ball movement of Sanchez, looping around behind the fullback, which ultimately made the move, Lia’s reverse pass inviting the midfielder to whip in a first time cross to the near post.

Greenacre arrived on cue and met the ball with a bullet header which Pasfield parried to safety, his denial sparking another Central Coast attack which culminated in Rose rampaging between two Wellington opponents before forcing Paston to shovel his low shot to safety.

It was around this time that both teams made substitutions which contributed to a notable change in the pattern of the match - Wellington became far more prominent, and given they were only a goal down, were far from out of it. That that was the case was due largely to Sigmund - he had a massive game, and stood between the visitors and a walloping.

For all their enterprise and endeavour, the visitors enjoyed little change from the league leaders, who afforded them just one genuine chance to equalise. Lia linked with Daniel, whose teasing cross-shot lured Pasfield out of goal but arced beyond both the goalkeeper and the far post.

That was as close as Wellington was to come to earning themselves a result they scarcely deserved. For after substitute Bernie Ibini-Isei had dashed down the right, the inept Lochhead trailing in his slipstream, only to shoot tamely at Paston, the home team clinched victory seven minutes from time.

Hutchinson was a tad peeved when coach Graham Arnold indicated he wanted McGlinchey to take a free-kick out on the left-hand side of the pitch, but the Maltese international had to hold his hand up and acknowledge the gaffer got it right when the Kiwi curled in a gem of a delivery which Zwaanswijk met with his head six yards out from goal.

Paston got his hand to the ball, but couldn’t prevent Central Coast doubling their lead, an advantage which McGlinchey himself looked to increase still further in stoppage time, only for Wellington’s goalkeeper to turn his fellow All White’s free-kick to safety.

Central Coast’s 2-0 win leaves them poised to clinch a first-placed finish in the next couple of weeks, but with Perth Glory eclipsing Newcastle Jets later in the evening, Wellington are now down to fourth spot, just three points clear of the chasing pack with five rounds remaining. Despite being in second spot a couple of weeks ago, the New Zealand contenders are not play-off certainties yet by any means.

2011/2012 Hyundai A-League - Round 20
5:30 pm, Saturday 18 February, 2012
at Central Bluetounge Coast Stadium, Gosford

Central Coast Mariners FC 2
(Tomas Rogic 52', Patrick 83')
Wellington Phoenix FC 0

    Crowd: 7,845


    Central Coast Mariners FC :
    Player listing:
    20. Justin PASFIELD (gk), 3. Joshua ROSE, 4. Pedj BOJIC, 6. Patrick ZWAANSWIJK, 7. John HUTCHINSON, 8. Rostyn GRIFFITHS, 14. Michael McGLINCHEY, 17. Tomas ROGIC (2. Daniel McBREEN +76’), 18. Alex WILKINSON (c), 19. John SUTTON (12. Troy HEARFIELD +89’), 23. Adam KWASNIK (9. Bernie IBINI-ISEI +61’)
    Substitutes not used: 31. Brody CRANE (rgk)

    Coach: Graham Arnold

    Yellow Cards: John Sutton 8’, Adam Kwasnik 57'
    Red Cards:Nil

    Wellington Phoenix FC :
    Player listing:
    Mark PASTON (gk), 2. Emmanuel MUSCAT, 3. Tony LOCHHEAD (19. James DOWNEY +85’), 4. Brent GRIFFITHS, 7. Leo BERTOS, 8. Paul IFILL, 9. Chris GREENACRE (12. Nick WARD +71’), 17. Vince LIA, 18. Ben SIGMUND (C), 21. Daniel SANCHEZ (11. Daniel CORTES De COSTA +65’), 24. Alex SMITH
    Substitutes not used: 20. Anthony WARNER (rgk)

    Coach: Ricki Herbert

    Yellow Cards: Manny Muscat 88’
    Red Cards: Nil

    Referee: Sebre Delovski 6/10
    Assistant Referees: Paul Cetrangolo, Lance Greenshields; Fourth official: Gerard Parsons
    Match Commissioner: Craig McCallum

    BOTN Player Points:
    3. Tomas Rogic (CCM)
    2. Ben Sigmund (WP)
    1. Mark Paston (WP)

    Pitch rating: 3/10 - worst I can recall seeing this season

    Game rating: 6/10

    Match Report and ratings: By Jeremy Ruane; Photo by Lowenna Rappo, Stats by Chris Dunkerley

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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