A draw that ebbed and flowed
By Corinthian (Paul Green):
Hyundai A-League Season 10 – 2014/2015 – Round 12
5pm, Saturday 27th December 2014 – Central Coast Football Stadium
Central Coast Mariners FC 3 (Eddy Bosnar 57’, Matt Simon 63’, Kim Seong-Yong 80′)
Brisbane Roar FC 3 (Solorzano 45’, 82, James Donachie 71’)
Central Coast Mariners’ fans flocked to their home stadium on Saturday evening, determined to give their beloved Yellow and Navy their best possible support, after a week of intense community efforts behind the scenes to swell crowd numbers and show the management and the players that they, the locally-based fans, were 100 per cent behind the team.
10,000 turned up on a cool, overcast evening and those many thousands made plenty of noise; but they had to endure an emotional roller-coaster, as the match against Brisbane Roar ebbed and flowed as fortunes constantly changed throughout a pulsating match.
It had been a long time since the Mariners had scored at home, or looked like a side that believed they could score in Gosford, but the players responded to the urgings of the crowd, after falling behind on the stroke of half-time to wind up, eventually, with a 3-3 draw against a confident visiting team.
The blow of conceding a goal at such a crucial stage of the game was not lost on the fans or the players.
The team came out breathing fire after the break and managed to get to a 2-1 lead, to much rejoicing.
But all that joy quickly dissipated as Roar came back strongly to level, before the Mariners again hit the lead.
Looking at securing only their third win of the season, having beaten Newcastle Jets in their opening home game, Central Coast Mariners could not hold on and Brisbane again drew level, though in doing so they showed as much intention of winning as the hosts did, throwing caution to the wind as the second-half unfolded.
For sheer entertainment, the match had plenty to offer, with six goals, but the manner in which both teams conceded had the respective coaches metaphorically tearing their hair out.
“Once again concentration let us down,” said Mariners’ coach Phil Moss.
“It’s something we’ve worked on and we have to keep working on, but at least the team now know they can score goals and that’s very pleasing.
“I thought Hutch (captain John Hutchinson) was tremendous, driving the players on,” said Moss.
“And Matty Simon will never stop, he’ll go through walls for us, all the time.
Central Coast had not scored a goal at home since Round Two and until Saturday they had reserved their highest scoring for the away game against Melbourne City, the only other team, apart from Newcastle in Round One, that they’ve beaten thus far, 2-0 back in Round Six.
And that only home win against The Jets had come by the narrowest of margins, 1-0.
In this game Moss had two able substitutes in Mitchell Duke and Seung-yong Kim, both of whom came off the bench in the second-half and made an appreciable difference.
But the biggest revelation was Matt Simon, who always looked likely to score and did so, albeit after two rapid-fire saves from the keeper had given the flame-haired striker the chance to slam a loose ball into the roof of the Brisbane net.
Simon looked in the kind of form he had displayed when first joining the club, before leaving for overseas a few seasons ago and was forming an excellent attacking partnership with Nick Fitzgerald and later Matthew Sim, before both Duke and Kim came on and began to look menacing alongside him.
The first-half had been relatively even, though Brisbane did look the more creative of the two sides, it should be said.
Roar had the better of the attacking exchanges with captain, Matt McKay and Brazilian winger, Henrique, both prominent.
The Mariners were holding their own, however, as the crowd continued to will them on.
Just as it seemed that they’d both go to the break without a goal, Brisbane struck.
Henrique began the move, feeding Steve Lustica, whose effort from outside the area took a deflection, wrong-footing the defenders and there, right on the spot to rifle the ball home, was Jean Carlos Solorzano, who had not scored in three years.
Undeterred by this setback the Mariners came out after the break looking very purposeful and confident, as Moss had changed things around a little, modifications which certainly worked as Simon moved more into the middle and Sim began to do most of his work out wide.
After a 56th minute Central Coast corner Adrian Caceres, who had a sound game, received the ball on the left and swung over a clever right-footed cross to the far post where the tall figure of re-instated centre back, Eddy Bosnar, climbed highest to powerfully head the ball past Roar keeper, Jamie Young.
That equaliser looked like providing a decent platform for the home side to go on with things and when they took the lead in the 63rd, the crowd began to believe again at last in their team’s capabilities after some disappointing results at home and no goals to speak of, apart from those netted in Rounds One and Two.
After two point-blank saves from shots by Glen Trifiro and Bosnar, the ball sat up nicely for Simon to gleefully slam home. It was 2-1, the Mariners had their tails up and the crowd was feeling jubilant.
But, once again, concentration was lacking, as the lively Brisbane side worked their way back into the game, with Dimi Petratos and substitute, Brandon Borrello, showing a good turn of foot.
Petratos found some space in the 70th minute, with the Mariners’ defenders sitting back, but a deflection meant that the shot which had been more or less on-target, had not done any real damage.
From the corner, however, it was a different story.
Petratos got the ball to the far post where James Donachie, who had always looked a nuisance for Brisbane going forward, got to the ball first with his head and as it caught the shoulder of a Mariners’ defender, the ball sailed into the roof of the net to make it 2-2.
Brisbane had been dangerous on the flanks and Corey Brown was one of their more effective players, operating on the left of defence and regularly getting forward.
While Brisbane always looked capable of scoring a third, Central Coast seemed just as anxious that it would be they who did that first and a win began to look a likely outcome, given their obvious attacking bent.
Indeed, with Kim and Duke livening things up considerably after coming off the bench in the last 15-20 minutes of the game, it came as no surprise when the Mariners did take the lead a second time.
Simon, really in good touch again now, fired in a powerful shot that Young could only block and there to tuck away the loose ball was substitute Kim, who showed his obvious excitement by jumping the fence and removing his shirt, an action that earned him an immediate yellow card.
Re-instated in the team, Kim had something to prove, though it’s hard to say how much his impact was, in the short time he was out there.
Certainly he kept the Roar defenders busy, but the input of Duke was probably more significant, as he showed some sublime skills on the ball and ran at defenders constantly, trying to keep the momentum going.
That momentum, sadly for the Mariners’ fans, was not enough to provide the much-desired victory, as Brisbane had other ideas of their own.
Also trying to rescue their season after a poor start, Roar were not giving in easily and earned their second equaliser in the 82nd and again it was Petratos who began things.
He slipped the ball to Daniel Bowles, who was prominent for much of the game down the right flank, with the Roar man set up perfectly by Petratos to cross smartly for that man Solorzano to tap home yet again.
Brisbane came out of the game with a point and few would argue that they didn’t deserve it, as the Mariners showed that while scoring goals is now not beyond them, keeping them out is another thing altogether and Phil Moss has plenty of work to do on his team’s defensive discipline in order for the switching-off not to occur again, as it did here.
Central Coast will take positives from the game, however, as they prepare to take on bottom- dogs, Western Sydney Wanderers in Parramatta on Thursday next.
Brisbane return to Suncorp Stadium with Sydney FC their visitors in a game they will be determined to win.
Crowd: 10,019 official figure
Central Coast Mariners FC: Liam Reddy, Storm Roux, Zac Anderson, Eddy Bosnar, Joshua Rose, John Hutchinson (C), Adrian Caceres, Matthew Sim (Mitchell Duke 62’), Glen Trifiro (Kim Seong Yong 72’), Nick Fitzgerald, Matt Simon
Subs Not Used: Matthew Nash (rgk), Liam Rose, Richard Vernes
Yellow cards: Bosnar (CCM) 18’, Simon (CCM) 37, Kim (CCM) 81’
Red cards: Nil
Brisbane Roar FC: J Young, D Bowles, J Donachie, J North, C Brown, M McKay (C), A Sarota, S Lustica, D Petratos, Henrique (B Borrello 55’), J C Solorzano
Subs Not Used: RGK Matthew Acton, Devante Clut, Mensur Kurtisi
Yellow cards: Bowles (BR) 65’, Donachie (BR) 89’
Red cards: Nil
Ratings and points
3. Matt Simon (CCM)
2. James Donachie (BR)
1. Corey Brown (BR)
Referee: Matthew Conger 5/10 (debut)