Mariners shine at Suncorp
by Chris Dunkerley:
Hyundai A-League 2013/14 season, Round 27 (last round)
8pm, Saturday 12 April, 2014 – Suncorp Stadium
Brisbane Roar FC 0
Central Coast Mariners FC 2
(Nick Fitzgerald 22′, Anthony Caceres 28′)
The Central Coast Mariners leave Brisbane with 3 points and a final third place in the league after defeating Brisbane Roar 2-0 at Suncorp on Saturday night.
Goals from Nick Fitzgerald and Anthony Caceres in the space of six minutes early in the first half against the new Premiers were enough to earn a home finals series berth for the current Champions.
With Champions League football midweek Mariners coach Phil Moss rested captain John Hutchinson and Kim Seung-yong, handing the armband to Nick Montgomery, who rose to the occasion.
The first goal came as the Mariners rested back momentum from early Roar pressure. A Central Coast counter-attack in the 22nd minute by Bernie Ibini-Isei who played through Storm Roux. The Kiwi cut the ball back in from the right to Nick Fitzgerald to run on to – and slot the ball into the net. 0-1
Six minutes later Ibini-Isei again was involved as he laid the ball off to Anthony Caceres 30m out, and the midfielder blasted the ball past Brisbane ‘keeper Theo. 0-2
On the hour mark, Thomas Broich made space, shooting on goal, which Coast custodian Liam Reddy fumbled and Besart Berisha tapped into the net, only to be correctly flagged for offside.
It was an exciting, energetic game, from which the Mariners deserved the win but the home side also contributed to with their passing game and pressing until the end. They hit the post twice, but that said the Mariners squandered several chances at well and held Besart Berisha almost chanceless.
With the Premiership wrapped up Brisbane now have a weekend rest before they enter the finals series, while the Mariners meet FC Seoul midweek at Gosford before returning there next weekend for their finals game.
“Tonight’s win certainly fills us with a lot of confidence,” Moss said. “We’re playing in two competitions at the moment and we came here with a plan tonight.”
“It was a little bit experimental and something we hadn’t done before. I am just so delighted with the way the players bought into it [the plan] early in the week and adapted to it as the week went on. If players don’t like the plan or system it can’t be executed but they were fantastic tonight.”
Moss added: “We made the whole week about us, not about any other result or any other team in the league.”
“We know that we let second place slip from having destiny in our own hands last week [against Perth Glory] and we were disappointed with that but there were certainly extraordinary circumstances surrounding that performance.”
“We knew it was just a blip in our season and we wanted to prove that tonight and I thought the energy levels, the discipline, the focus, the intensity, and the belief was outstanding.”
“Every time we broke with the ball we looked dangerous. So full credit to the players and certainly it’s given us a real shot in the arm moving forward.”
The Mariners will discover who they will play in the first week of the Hyundai A-League 2014 Finals Series following Sydney FC’s clash with Perth Glory at Allianz Stadium in Sydney on Sunday.
Asked which team he’d prefer face next week, Moss said: “Whoever – bring them on.”
Brisbane Roar FC: 1. Michael THEO (gk), 2. Matt SMITH (c), 3. Shane STEFANUTTO, 5. Ivan FRANJIC, 7. Besart BERISHA, 11. Liam MILLER (10. HENRIQUE +69’), 13. Jade NORTH, 17. Matt MCKAY, 18. Luke BRATTAN (8. Steven LUSTICA +66’), 22. Thomas BROICH, 23. Dmitri PETRATOS
Substitutes not used: 15. James DONACHIE, 19. Jack HINGERT, 20. Matthew ACTON (rgk)
Yellow cards: Franjic, Brattan
Coach: Mike Mulvey
Central Coast Mariners FC: 12. Liam REDDY (gk), 3. Joshua ROSE, 5. Zachary ANDERSON, 8. Nick MONTGOMERY (c), 9. Mitchell DUKE, 11. Nick FITZGERALD (29. Matt SIM +70’), 15. Storm ROUX, 17. Anthony CACERES, 20. Bernie IBINI-ISEI, 25. Eddy BOSNAR (6. Brent GRIFFITHS +46’), 28. Glen TRIFIRO (21. Mile STERJOVSKI +80’)
Substitutes not used: 1. Justin PASFIELD (rgk), 27. Isaka CERNAK
Yellow cards: Nil
Coach: Phil Moss
Ratings and points
Referee: Kris Griffiths Jones 8/10
3. Nick Fitzgerald (CCM)
2. Nick Montgomery (CCM)
1. Anthony Caceres (CCM)
By Chris Dunkerley