Mariners beat Sydney at home

By Corinthian (Paul Green):

Hyundai A-League 2013/14 season, Round 9
7:45pm, Sunday 10 November, 2013
Bluetongue Central Coast Stadium, Gosford

Central Coast Mariners FC 1
(Daniel McBreen 26′)
defeated
Sydney FC 0

The Champions stood up to be counted when it mattered most; when nearest geographical neighbours, Sydney FC, coming off four wins in a row, paid a visit to Bluetongue Stadium on Saturday night.

After taking four points from six, since new coach Phil Moss took over, there was no reason to doubt that the Mariners would be competitive, but all the same, the imposing form of the Light Blues meant that everyone needed to be at their best, especially after escaping with a 0-0 draw against a fully-motivated Melbourne Victory eight days earlier.

While the scoreline was only 1-0 to the home team at the finish, few would argue that it was not a resounding win and a sign that the Mariners could well be on their way back to the top, just as the AFC Champions League campaign looms for them around the corner in the New Year.

Sydney FC began well enough, but with coach Moss including McBreen from the outset, deeming him fit and ready to complete a full 90 after coming on late the previous week from the bench, there was no doubting Moss’s judgement was spot-on in selecting the 35 year old marksman.

McBreen rewarded his coach and the supporters, who gave him a warm welcome following his return from China, with a true striker’s goal after 26 minutes.

There had been some attractive build-up play on the right and Sydney FC defenders gambled on the ball going out for a goal-kick when it hovered precariously over the byline, close to the right hand upright.

They were to rue their mistake of not clearing the ball for a corner, as McBreen took full advantage when Joshua Rose brought the ball forward again from the edge of the area, on the left, after a hurried clearance, then got to the left byline and sent the ball low to the near post.

Goalkeeper Vedran Janjetovic had McBreen breathing down his neck and could not get either a foot or a hand in to keep the 35 year old at bay. McBreen, with the deftest of flicks, turned the ball past the keeper and low towards the centre of the goal. The finish was as good as any you will see at the top level.

It was to prove a costly error by Sydney FC and a winning move by Moss in bringing the Golden Boot winner from the previous season back into the fray.

McBreen’s touch may have let him down once earlier in the first-half, but he certainly showed he had lost none of his sharpness this time.

Nick Carle had gone close to getting Sydney FC off to a good start in the 12th minute, but former Sydney FC keeper, Liam Reddy, was in no mood to surrender his clean sheet so easily and reached high to push the effort over the crossbar.

With Michael McGlinchey in good touch and working hard to generate leverage in the midfield, Marcos Flores was able to get forward more often and the skilful, creative Argentinean was often seen to advantage.

He tried a shot in the 41st, after McGlinchey had shaken off three defenders, but the effort went narrowly wide.

McBreen nearly claimed a brace, in the 43rd, again from a Rose cross, but he headed the ball into the ground, as per the coaching manual and there was not enough power or direction to trouble Janjetovic, who was relieved to see the ball bounce a second time and go over the crossbar.

Sydney FC began the second-half with a lot more zip, but that exuberance and determination proved short-lived as the four-time winners in as many matches, looked far from the well-oiled machine they needed to be to combat the more organised and disciplined Central Coast side.

Reddy saved from one of the few Sydney FC players to hold his head high on this occasion, Ali Abbas, whose 58th minute header off a Joe Chianese cross from the right had looked well on-target.

Matt Simon came off the bench for Flores in the 71st and gave the Sydney defence plenty to do, keeping their minds on their defensive duties rather than concerning themselves with mounting relentless attacks. Simon’s speed off the mark and willingness to make the most of his fresh legs was a big help in ensuring the Mariners kept their sound hold on the game.

Mile Sterjovksi, himself a 73rd minute substitute, laid on a through ball from deep for local hero, Simon, who went on to challenge the keeper, in the 79th, but the latter did just enough to foil the hard runner’s dangerous intent.

As stoppage-time approached Sterjovski, mostly used as a substitute at the present time, got in a cracking shot from 15 yards, but the woodwork denied him, as he continued to make Sydney FC work for everything at their own end of the field

It had been a lacklustre Sydney FC, after their recent showings, with the Mariners, conversely, up for this one in a big way.

For Sydney FC central defender Nikola Petkovic was sound and ventured forward as often as he could, while fellow-countryman, the team’s new Serbian striker, Ranko Despotovic, always looked a handful but was well blotted out of it by the well-drilled Mariners’ defence, centre-backs, Marcel Siep and Trent Sainsbury, in particular, doing a sterling job.

Post-match, Mariners coach, Phil Moss, agreed that his players had delivered the reaction he was looking for, following an insipid performance against Melbourne Victory, the previous weekend.

“I am a perfectionist and the performances over the first two weeks (of my time in charge) weren’t great,” Moss said. “This week I asked for a reaction and boy did I get it in the first 45 minutes.”

“I thought we had some great chances in the first half and they were born out of great ball speed, ball movement. We had players in motion when we were building up from the back, and I thought we played through the lines and through midfield very, very well to create our chances.”

“We can be much better – that wasn’t a complete performance tonight by any stretch but there were a lot of glimpses there of what we’re capable of.”

Moss praised McBreen’s goal as “something that you see on the highlights from the English Premier League”.
“I thought ‘Macca’ (McBreen) really looked back to the Macca of old tonight. He was putting himself about and he was getting into some good areas in the box. His finish was class.”

MATCH STATS:

Crowd: 10,251

Central Coast Mariners FC
Player listing: 12. Liam REDDY (gk), 2. Daniel MCBREEN, 3. Joshua ROSE, 4. Marcel SEIP, 7. John HUTCHINSON (c), 8. Nick MONTGOMERY, 9. Mitchell DUKE (21. Mile STERJOVSKI +73’), 10. Marcos FLORES (19. Matt SIMON +71’), 14. Michael MCGLINCHEY, 15. Storm ROUX (6. Brent GRIFFITHS +84’), 16. Trent SAINSBURY
Substitutes not used: 1. Justin PASFIELD (rgk), 17. Anthony CACERES

Yellow Cards: Marcel Seip 50′; Red Cards: Nil 

Coach: Phil Moss

Sydney FC
Player listing: 20. Vedran JANJETOVIC (gk), 2. Sebastian RYALL, 4. Ranko DESPOTOVIC (27. Chris NAUMOFF +76’), 5.Matthew JURMAN, 6.Nikola PETKOVIC, 8. Pedj BOJIC, 11. Richard GARCIA (c),16. Joel CHIANESE, 19. Nick CARLE (15. Terry MCFLYNN +80’), 22. Ali ABBAS, 28. Matthew THOMPSON (21. Yairo YAU +63’)
Substitutes not used:  1. Ivan NECEVSKI (rgk), 34. Aaron CALVER

Yellow cards: Matt Thompson, Terry McFlynn 84′, Yairo Yau 88′; Red Cards: Nil

Coach: Frank Farina

Ratings:
Referee: Peter Green 8/10
Assistants: David Walsh, Leigh Pigram; Fourth Official: Adam Gehrig

BOTN Player Points:
3. Michael McGlinchey (CCM)
2. Marcos Flores (CCM)
1. Daniel McBreen (CCM)

Pitch rating: 8/10
Game rating: 7/10

By Corinthian (Paul Green)

Photo: Lowenna Rappo (Archive photo)