Mariners return to winning ways

By Corinthian (Paul Green):

Hyundai A-League – Season 10 – 2014/2015 – Round 16
5pm, Saturday 7th February 2015 – Central Coast Football Stadium

Central Coast Mariners FC 2 (Nick Fitzgerald 79′, Josh Rose 84′)
Adelaide United FC 1 (Awer Mabil 29′)


In a game which was decided late on, Central Coast Mariners returned to winning  ways -after slipping up badly against Sydney FC at their previous start at Central Coast Stadium – by defeating the highly rated Adelaide United on a warm night in Gosford.

So warm, in fact, that Mariners’ coach, Phil Moss. made it clear after it was over that these 5pm games can never be played at a high tempo, especially in the first half.

Well they can, but those who try and play that way for the entire 90 minutes can get punished later, though Reds’ coach, Josep Gombau, was not going to offer that as a reason for his team’s surprise 2-1 defeat at the hands of a Mariners’ side who appeared heading for defeat for most of the game.

Gombau said he’d been pleased with his players’ performance and while the result was not what he’d been hoping for, the quality of the football his team played gave him no cause for concern, going into the next match.

Perhaps there was an element of good fortune about the win by the home side, including a late penalty call for an inadvertent handball, which allowed Nick Fitzgerald to score the equaliser after Socceroo reserve keeper, Eugene Galekovic, had spilled his initial attempt from the spot in the 78th minute.

But that wasn’t the only incident that the match hung on and while Gombau again did not want to discuss it, post-match, most observers were bemused when referee Allan Milliner appeared to miss a glaring shirt tug on roving Red, Jimmy Jeggo,in the middle stages of the second half when Adelaide were leading 1-0.

Later, however, it was the inability of Adelaide to play more directly and finish off their many chances that came back to haunt them towards the end.

Jeggo was a marauding presence throughout, getting backwards and forwards at will and seemingly unaffected by the stifling heat as he cleaned up in defence and the next minute helped launch another attack.

He and the lively Awer Mabil, playing out wide on the right flank, mostly, provided the main threat as they tried to set up front man Bruce Djite and the more constructive, but less instinctive, Sergio Cirio and  Djite’s 61st minute replacement, their new signing, Miguel Palanca Fernandez.

Adelaide also had to do without defensive mainstay, Nigel Boogaard and had play-maker Marcelo Carrusca sidelined as well.

Tarek Elrich moved across to centre back and put in a decent shift.

The visitors took the lead in the 29th and it came as no surprise as winger, Awer Mabil, had been causing huge problems for his marker out wide as he got past his man repeatedly to provide quality crosses.

Elrich began the move that led to the Adelaide goal.

He sent the ball through to Pablo Sanchez who cut the ball back for the spindly youngster Mabil to get in a strong shot that Mariners’ keeper, Liam Reddy, couldn’t hang on.

Mabil didn’t need prompting as he then rifled in the rebound, with the aid of an inadvertent deflection off Jacob Poscoliero that deceived Reddy the second time.

The Mariners began to work their way into the game after the break, but it still looked more likely that Adelaide would score a second.

Then as Fitzgerald worked his way forward in the 78th minute and lofted a shot towards goal, Reds’ defender, Michael Marrone, could not keep his arm out of the way and the penalty decision was not so hard to make, though Adelaide could not be blamed for feeling deflated.

Fitzgerald’s initial effort was far from convincing, but neither was Galekovic’s save which allowed the penalty-taker to tidy up and put away the equaliser.

Josh Rose had already begun to make some impactful runs down the left flank and his crosses had worried the Adelaide defence for much of the second half.

It should have come as no surprise, then, for the visitors when he was the man confident enough to slam home the winner in the 84th.

Mitchell Duke, playing his final game for Central Coast as it turned out later, whipped over a diagonal cross from the right that was met first time by Rose to beat Galekovic all ends up.

Perhaps Adelaide underestimated the Mariners’ ability to score, without either of their main strikers, Matt Simon or the departing Duke, to conjure up much of any consequence.

Simon was ineffective and Duke, who ran hard without getting on the end of much, proved the man to help break the deadlock in the final analysis.

Gombau may have been calm and collected at the end, declining to blame anyone for the defeat, but Mariners’ man Moss was quietly delighted.

“Today was a big test for us, for me they [Adelaide] are the best footballing team in the competition, they put seven goals past Newcastle last week and when they put one past us it could have gone either way but I thought the mentality of the players was great to ride out the storm and get to half time. In the second half we were much better and forced them into mistakes and we used the ball much better,” Moss said.

“We were able to get ourselves back into the game and that was key, ‘Fitzy’ put the rebound in off his penalty which was probably the little bit of luck we needed,” Moss said.

“Today was a crucial win for many reasons but we’ve got to build on that and pull some wins together. We’ve got another chance next week against Brisbane at home and we need to come out breathing fire again and get the result there,” Moss said.

Two young debutants were singled out for praise as well by the coach.

“Young Liam Rose and Anthony Kalik in their debuts made a big difference to us at just the right time in the game and as we’ve always said at this club, we give kids a chance and that’s their first taste of A-League and I’m sure they’ll grow from it,” Moss said.

Two wins out of three home games now and another couple to come for the Mariners who will need to win a few more now before they embark on some travelling again in the hope of breaking into the top six, a task that is not looking as difficult as it was before the New Year, but is certainly not going to be easy, especially with a potentially arduous Asian Champions League campaign a distinct possibility.

Match details

Attendance: 4,508

Central Coast Mariners FC:  12. Liam REDDY (gk); 2 Storm ROUX, 4 Jacob POSCOLIERO,  25 Eddy BOSNAR, 3 Joshua ROSE; 7 John HUTCHINSON (c), 11 Nick FITZGERALD (14 Travis MAJOR +87′) 10 Adrian CACERES (20 Anthony KALIK +60′); 8 Nick MONTGOMERY (16 Liam Rose +69′), 9 Mitchell DUKE, 19 Matt SIMON
Subs Not Used: 1. Matthew NASH (rgk), 15. Matthew SIM
Yellow Cards: Matthew Simon 45′; Red Cards: Nil
Coach: Phil Moss

Adelaide United FC:  1.Eugene GALEKOVIC (gk) (c); 2.Michael MARRONE, 21.Tarek ELRICH, 5.Osama MALIK, 16. Craig GOODWIN; 7.PABLO SÁNCHEZ, 8.ISAÍAS,  18.Jimmy JEGGO;  17.Awer MABIL (24. Bruce KAMAU +72′), 9.Sergio CIRIO, 11.Bruce DJITE (19.Miguel PALANCA FERNANDEZ +61′)
Subs Not Used: 20. Paul IZZO (rgk), 32.Nathan KONSTANDOPLOUS
Yellow Cards: Nil ; Red Cards: Nil

Points and ratings

Match 7/10
Pitch 8/10
Referee: Allan Milliner 5/10
Assistants: Lance Greenshields and Andre Giev; Fourth Official: Adam Gehrig

Player points:
3.  Jimmy Jeggo (AU)
2.  Jacob Poscoliero (CCM)
1.   Awer Mabil (AU)

Photo: Archive photo of stadium during a CCM game – Lowenna Rappo for BOTN