Trialist’s hatrick shocks Wanderers in Coffs
by Chris Dunkerley:
Hyundai A-League HAL11 Pre-season friendly
7:00pm, Friday 7 August, 2015
C.ex International Stadium, North Boambee Valley, Coffs Harbour
Western Sydney Wanderers FC 2 (Romeo Castelen 69′, Joshua Macdonald 77′)
Central Coast Mariners FC 3 (Daniel Heffernan 52′, 54′, 56′)
Heidelberg United FC’s Daniel Heffernan followed up on his FFA Cup scoring last week in Newcastle and did his chances of earning an A-League contract no harm, scoring a quickfire second half hat-trick for Central Coast Mariners in this trial game against Western Sydney Wanderers FC in Coffs Harbour last night.
The final score was 2-3, with the Wanderers grabbing goals in the 69th and 77th minute as they swung senior players onto the pitch.
Through those long days between seasons most A-League fans find other things to do; play, watch local leagues, ski, watch TV games, or follow other pursuits waiting for their team to again take the park. A-League fans on the Coffs Coast spend the summer watching from afar. Tonight they had a chance to see A-League teams in the flesh.
Western Sydney Wanderers FC this week took advantage of the first class accommodation and training facilities the Coffs Coast has to offer, staying at the Novotel Pacific Bay Resort Elite Sports Training Facility at Korora on the northern beaches. Along with their pre-season focus they also ran workshops with local rep team players.
The culmination of the week saw Central Coast Mariners FC, themselves early into pre-season make the 5 hour journey north to play the Wanderers. The game was at the International Sports Stadium nestled into the North Boambee Valley, with its view of a Banana plantation and distant forested mountains.
This was the very scene of the infamous 2001 Oceania WC qualifiers, during which Archie Thompson helped himself to 13 goals in the 31-0 drubbing of American Samoa.
Both teams have had massive changes in personnel over the off-season. The Wanderers announcing a raft of signings in past weeks, including visa players. It was not expected that we would see many of those newest players, but they started with an experienced lineup, but with four trialists on the bench.
After playing the Jets behind closed doors 2 days before, the Central Coast brought a few signings, including Paul Izzo and young Harry Ascroft, and a tranche of triallists, north for the game. They started a very inexperienced lineup, including 3 trialists of the 7 up in Coffs.
As a test of the strength of the two teams, it was bound to dissapoint, but with their local clubs knocked out in the preliminary rounds of the FFA Cup the top flight starved local football people and other locals turned out in good numbers with 3,248 in the ground for this late arranged and limited promoted game. There were the colours too of local and travelling fans of the two clubs. Along with the over 4K in Lismore for an A-League pre-seaon game last year, it shows the hunger for higher level football on the north coast of NSW.
The first half was a lacklustre affair as two teams new to themselves as much as to each other tried to get some rythm.
The Wanderers started well with free kicks in the first 15 minute testing the experienced Mariners custodian Liam Reddy. First real chance saw Mitch Nicholls brought down just outside the penalty area. Gol Gol Mebrahtu curled his shot towards the top right corner but Reddy was able to parry.
In the 20th minute new Mariner Mitch Austin showed pace down the left with a run and delivered a dangerous ball into the area but Dan Heffernan having met the ball was unable to get any real shot away.
Again the Wanderers won a free-kick in the 29th minute just outside the area but Mebrahtu hit it straight at Reddy.
In the 38th minute Wanderers’ Jaushua Sotirio hit a volley from just outside the area on the left box that sailed just over the crossbar.
Major changes in the second half to the Wanderers defence let the Mariners into the game.
In the 52nd minute Mitch Austin passed across to trialist Jake Adelson just outside the area and he sent the cross to Heffernan who finished from close range.
Within 2 minutes Heffernan had goal number two, connecting with trialist Adam Berry. Berry sent a dangerous cross into the 18-yard box where Heffernan was able to head home from close range past substitute keeper Dean Bouzanis.
2 minutes later trialist Francesco Stella broke down the left hand side and crossed. His pass found Heffernan who pounced on the opportunity to knock in his hatrick goal.
With changes wrought by Tony Popovic the Wanderers looked stronger. Golgol Mebrahtu struck a long cross from the left wing in the 69th that evaded the Mariners’ backline, and Romeo Castelen who had made a run on the right slammed in the opener for the Wanderers giving Reddy no chance.
In the 77th, Josh Macdonald, who had been prompting moves since coming on, was on the end of one. His shot seemed to take a deflection and nestled in Liam Reddy’s net.
A minute before the whistle trialist Mario Shabow tested Liam Reddy but he smothered the low dipping shot.
Mariners coach Tony Walmsley said afterward, “At this time of the pre-season you are looking at performances more than anything else but when you get a result anytime against Western Sydney Wanderers it’s going to be good for the mood in the camp and we’ve got a big FFA Cup game next week.”
“What that game has done for us, is prepared us physically and also given me few headaches as to what selections I’m going to make next Tuesday.”
“You can’t ask anymore of a trialist (Dan Heffernan), we’ve watched him a couple of times at training and I knew if we delivered the ball into the right areas he was going to score goals and he’s done that tonight, we won’t make a snap judgement on whether we sign him or not but he’s done himself a lot of favours.”
“You saw some cameos from Mitch Austin today and if he gets into open space he is going to be a handful because he’s incredibly powerful.”
“We’d love to come back to Coffs Harbour. I’ve been here many times in the past but to come here for an event like this is absolutely sensational and we can’t thank the hosts enough,” Walmsley concluded.
Wanderers defender Scott Neville said that he was impressed with what he saw from the young squad from his vantage point on the bench after playing the first half.
“Some of the boys are only 16 or 17 and to be training in a professional environment, I think a couple of them even had the week off school to come up here and train so I’m sure they were thrilled to be up here,” Neville said.
“They’re not used to training two sessions a day and this morning as well so they were probably a little bit fatigued. But I think they did pretty well in the second half to come back and to score two goals was a credit to them.”
The Mariners host Wellington Phoenix in the Westfield FFA Cup Round of 32 on Tuesday night, while the Wanderers are also at home to Brisbane Roar.
For the sake of fans: Wanderers played in their ‘Where’s Wally?” hoops, and the Mariners played in their “Miss Central Coast” sash shirts (not the recently shown off “palm treed” ones)
Western Sydney Wanderers FC: Andrew Redmayne (gk), Scott Jamieson, Brendan Hamill, Daniel Alessi, Scott Neville, Andreu, Jacob Pepper, Mitch Nichols, Jaushua Sotirio, Golgol Mebrahtu, Mark Bridge (c1)
Second half starting lineup – Dean Bouzanis (GK), Alusine Fofanah, Cohan Morris, Lachlan Campbell, Jacob Pepper, Liam Youlley, Kearyn Baccus (c2), Mario Shabow, Jaushua Sotirio (Romeo Castelen subbed on 60′), Josh Macdonald, Jonathan Grozdanovski
Substitute not used: 22. Jonathan Aspro
Coach: Tony Popovic
Central Coast Mariners FC: 12. Liam REDDY (gk), 3. Jacob POSCOLIERO, 5. Harry ASCROFT, 6. Mitch AUSTIN (3. Lachlan WALES (trialist), 71’), 9. Francesco STELLA (trialist) (8. Daniel McFARLANE (trialist) 72’), 15. Matt SIM, 16. Liam ROSE (7. Trent BUHARGIAR (trialist) 76’), 18. Glen TRIFIRO (23. Adam BERRY (trialist) 2’), 19. Daniel HEFFERNAN (trialist), 20. Jake ADELSON (trialist), 22. Jake McGING (2. Storm ROUX 46’)
Substitutes not used: 1. Paul IZZO (rgk), 10. Anthony CACERES, 11. Nick FITZGERALD, 21. Michael NEILL
Coach: Tony Walmsley
Referee: Kris Griffiths Jones 8/10
Points and ratings
Players to note: WSW – Scott Neville, Daniel Alessi, Romeo Castelen, Josh Macdonald; CCM – Liam Rose, Liam Reddy, Jake McGing, Francesco Stella, Daniel Heffernan