Stalemate at Bluetongue Stadium

By Corinthian (Paul Green):

Hyundai A-League 2013/14 season, Round 8
7:30pm, Friday 29 November, 2013
Bluetongue Central Coast Stadium, Gosford

Central Coast Mariners FC 0
drew with
Brisbane Roar FC 0

Stalemate at Bluetongue Stadium – Mariners hold off Victory

Conditions were far from conducive for a sparkling encounter when Central Coast Mariners entertained Melbourne Victory at Bluetongue Stadium on Friday night.

It had been a dreary day and the Gosford area had copped its fair share of rain, apparently, though the pitch was in magnificent order and could take no blame for the quality of football on display on this occasion.

It was the gloomy skies and cooler-than-expected temperature that probably kept the crowd numbers down and the lack of covered seating in all areas of the stadium may well have discouraged locals from turning up in large numbers, especially for a 7.30pm kick off on a Friday night.

Those who did come were shown a workmanlike performance by the home side against a skilful and mobile Victory team, now more settled since new coach Kevin Muscat took over from the Socceroos’ latest man in charge, Ange Postecoglou.

Victory have surged up the ladder, as the season has moved on, while the Grand Final winners have marked time and merely kept reasonably well in touch with the leading group.

Fresh from a 3-0 win over Adelaide United the previous weekend the Melbourne side looked lively and tested the Mariners’ defence repeatedly.

The Mariners had snatched a last gasp 3-2 win in Perth in new coach Phil Moss’s first game in charge, only days earlier, but if they were to win this they’d have needed even more going their way than they enjoyed in the west.

They saw far less of the ball than Victory and much of that was due to their own poor passing and turning over of possession, it should be said.

There were only rare efforts from the Mariners to get the local crowd excited, whereas the Melbourne team had those same loyal home team fans holding their collective breath on a number of occasions.

Archie Thompson played a worthwhile enough supporting role as Messrs. Kosta Barbarouses and James Troisi carved up the opposition, with a succession of through passes and diagonal runs that the Mariners found too hard to track, as often as not.

Thompson was generally contained, but when he did burst through he elected to pass to an offside opponents when, had he been more assured, he might have pulled the trigger and found the net from 15 yards as he had some space in which to work, which he ignored.

And with midfielder and captain, Mark Milligan, enjoying the run of the park, in support of the forwards, it seemed only a matter of time before the Yellow and Navy would succumb.

But thankfully for the hosts, Melbourne’s front-runners, for all their creativity and energy had clearly left their composure back behind in Victoria and had no idea how to intimidate Mariners’ keeper Liam Reddy.

Reddy raced off his line early in the game to ‘make himself big’, thus ensuring that what had seemed a certain goal-scoring opportunity for Troisi was turned into a blocked effort instead.

And towards the end of the match Reddy dived expertly to finger-tip away a goal-bound effort from substitute Guilherme Finkler.

Milligan had earlier fired one wide and then struck the underside of the crossbar, with the keeper beaten, as the first-half drew to a close.

But if Melbourne spared the Mariners’ blushes with some careless finishing then they, themselves, almost got caught out in the dying stages of the game after talismanic veteran striker, Daniel McBreen had emerged from the bench in the 61st minute.

He shot through a static defence, late on, to run onto a through pass from very deep and only a raised assistant’s flag denied him a late winner, although it looked a fair call, albeit an unnecessarily tardy one by the man running the line, with McBreen cleverly beating the keeper with his telling touch.

Overall Victory had the edge and even with four players out for various reasons they looked by far the better side.

Coach Kevin Muscat admitted to disappointment, but was generally pleased with his team.

“The performance was very good,” he said with some conviction.

“The process of creating the chances we made was very good, if not the execution in finishing them off.

“I was disappointed not to come away with all three points, as defensively we were very sound. It was mainly a lack of composure that let us down.

Phil Moss, in his first home game in charge, as former coach Graham Arnold received a presentation on the field at half-time to show due recognition for his contribution during his own time in charge, spoke well of his own side.

“We set ourselves objectives during the week for this important game and we met most, if not all, of them this evening.

“Can we do better? Yes we of course can. We possibly could have been a little braver (going forward), but the team’s fighting spirit was fantastic.

“We have been going through a transition period, but I can see light at the end of the tunnel now,” he said.

“It’s a work in progress, no doubt. The defensive work was quite good.

“Daniel (McBreen) is nearly ready now (to play a full game).

“He did mostly endurance training in China and we’ve been working on the rest since he returned.

“Flores came off near the end and he put in a good shift against his old club. He’s fit, maybe some tightness, like one or two of them, but certainly no injury (for those who asked if he had a groin strain, as he hinted at that when he sat back down on the bench).

Liam (Reddy) was a great presence out there tonight and he is doing well, though Justin Pasfield is keeping him up to the mark in training.

“We’ll work on the things we didn’t do so well tonight so that we’re ready for Sydney FC next week,” Moss avowed.

“We’re all looking forward to that one.

Match details:

Official attendance: 5,787

Central Coast FC: Liam Reddy (gk); Storm Roux, Trent Sainsbury, Brent Griffiths, Joshua Rose; Mitchell Duke, Anthony Caceres (Nick Montgomery +73′), John Hutchinson (c); Marcos Flores (Mile Sterjovski +85′), Michael McGlinchey; Matthew Simon (Daniel McBreen +61′)

Melbourne Victory FC: Nathan Coe (gk); Jason Geria, Pablo Contreras, Nicholas Ansell, Adama Traore; Rashid Mahazi, Mark Milligan (c); Kosta Barbarouses, Archie Thompson (Guilherme Finkler +75′), James Troisi; Mitch Nichols (Connor Pain +66′)

Cautions: Adama Traore (MV) 13, Matt Simon (CCM) 28, Mark Milligan (MV) 45, Pablo Contreras (MV) 84, Trent Sainsbury (CCM) 87

Ratings

Referee: Kris Griffiths-Jones 6/10

Pitch 9/10

Game 6/10

Player Points

3. Mark Milligan (MV)

2. James Troisi (MV)

1. Kosta Barbarouses (MV)

By Corinthian

(Photo by Lowenna Rappo)