Tough times continue for underpowered Coast
By Corinthian (Paul Green):
Hyundai A-League – Season 11 – 2015/2016 – Round 11
5:05pm, Sunday 20th December 2015 – Central Coast Football Stadium
Central Coast Mariners FC 0
Brisbane Roar FC 1 (Dimitri Petratos 85′)
These are tough times for Central Coast Mariners.
Amid all kinds of stories about instability within the club and their budgetary limitations, they are doing all they can to give their loyal fans something to get excited about.
Earlier on in the season they were cavalier in style and after an opening home game win over Perth Glory, they’ve struggled ever since, collecting just two more points from 1-1 draws at the start of November ,against Wellington Phoenix and Newcastle Jets, respectively, the latter away from home and with the last kick of the game.
Here they looked to curb their adventurous streak and try to contain a Brisbane side that has shown improvement in every match since beginning the season with a sound win away to Western Sydney Wanderers.
Brisbane had a strong line-up, having left Dimitri Petratos on the bench, with the injury-prone Jean Carlos Solorzono another to bide his time, awaiting the call from his coach.
The Mariners had captain, Nick Montgomery, back from suspension and he’s been such a tower of strength all season that he was going to have a lot to say about how this game panned out.
As it happened, the Mariners somehow managed to hold Brisbane out until the 85th minute, though there were no shortage of chances for Roar, as a stout Central Coast defence and a huge array of shots off-target contributed to the blank scoreboard for all of that time.
Roy O’Donovan manfully shouldered the Mariners’ load up front, with wide runners, Mitchell Austin and Storm Roux, pushed forward in an effort to change the system and give Brisbane something different to think about, having just edged their opponents 2-1 at home, back in mid-October.
The game was looking increasingly like a frustrating one for the visitors, with all of their misses likely to come back and bite them, but the Mariners, while resolute in defence, offered little to worry Brisbane for the most part.
O’Donovan chased and chased, trying a few shots from long range, while Austin and Josh Rose, working in tandem down the left, did try a few things that might have come off on another day.
The result that Roar were looking for, to set themselves up for a forthcoming engagement with Melbourne City, finally fell into place, after coach, John Aloisi, looked to clear his bench.
Javier Hervas came on at half-time for Steven Lustica, who’d worked hard, but reported an injury to his dressing room at the end of the first-half.
Hervas was able to provide another dimension in midfield, so the switch was to prove very effective.
Later Solorzano replaced an injured Jamie Maclaren, who’d shown good form, before suffering a heavy knock, after a challenge from a Mariners’ defender, near the touchline.
Solorzano, no stranger to injury himself, looked lively and again Roar didn’t suffer too much by the withdrawal of their star in-form striker.
The ace up Aloisi’s sleeve, however, was Dimitri Petratos, who loves coming to NSW and trying to upset the clubs with whom he’d either trialled unsuccessfully, or in the case of Sydney FC, wasn’t retained by the club in past seasons.
He scored a ha-trick against the Sky Blues a couple of seasons back and here, having been demoted, after failing to score since Round 3, produced the winner, with a completely individual goal.
It came late, the 85th minute to be precise, and after all the clever probings of midfield marquee, Thomas Broich, had come to nothing, Petratos found himself free on the right, then cut inside to put the ball on his favoured left foot, before unleashing a corker that flew past Paul Izzo and into the top left corner of the net.
A stunning blow for the small home attendance of 5,124, possibly well down on normal, due to the extremely hot conditions, but certainly because their home team was anchored at the foot of the ladder, still five points adrift of the similarly luckless Adelaide United and still some way behind both Perth Glory and Newcastle Jets.
They’ll be keen to address that in the Boxing Day derby in town against Sydney FC.
Meanwhile Central Coast Mariners had the chance to welcome back their own star man, Fabio Ferreira, who has not been seen for some weeks. He had little choice, but to be on the bench until late in the game, as his full recovery is sure to be a gradual process.
Like Petratos, Ferreira came on late, too, but while he had his moments, he was clearly a little rusty, especially when close to goal.
Another left languishing on the bench this time, as part of coach Tony Walmsley’s revamp for this match, was play-maker Anthony Caceres.
The skilful midfielder did come on in the 59th, for defender Jacob Poscoliero and was definitely seen to advantage, but it was the arrival of Ferreira that had most fans looking for some late salvation, as skipper Montgomery made way, after giving it his all to that point.
Matthew Sim, who’d rescued his side in Newcastle, had also come on in the 71st, but this time he was unable to produce a similar, sensational, late match-saving strike.
Brisbane were well served by their defence, led by Jade North, as always and Daniel Bowles.
Broich had a relatively quiet game, though he remained influential.
Brisbane looked the goods going forward, but if they show this much profligacy in their coming games, they’ll struggle to maintain their exalted ranking.
The Mariners will take heart from their efforts, still sweating on the return of a fully-fit Ferreira and perhaps more fresh blood, though the club seems unlikely to fork out what little cash it has to plug any perceived gaps.
Josh Rose thought he might have saved the day as stoppage-time loomed, but a shot of his that deflected off a Brisbane defender was ruled out, due to an offside infringement.
Apart from shots from O’Donovan and Austin, that were just off target, the best opportunity could have been when Austin went on a withering run from the left in the 40th minute and sailed into the penalty area as he made his way past several lunging Brisbane legs, before coming down under a final challenge.
The referee, Chris Beath, waved away appeals for a spot-kick, however, and it did look later, on replay, that the speedy Austin might have stumbled, rather than being unfairly impeded. Those ones are always difficult to call.
So, it’s all to do in Sydney on Saturday and the Mariners will be looking to spoil the Sydney FC party, their presence guaranteed to unsettle some Sky Blue nerves, if they can get the formula right.
There will certainly be no Boxing Day gift points on offer from the Central Coast, when they come up against their former coach, Graham Arnold, who’ll probably be on the edge of his seat for most of the game, while Tony Walmsley stands and admires his team’s hard work, with little to lose on this occasion in a game the home team is fully expected to win.
Brisbane tackle Melbourne City in the Queensland capital and the in-form southern visitors will be wary, after arriving on a high from their derby win over Victory last weekend.
Aloisi and co won’t be putting out the welcome mat either.
Central Coast Mariners FC: 1 Paul IZZO (gk); 4 Jacob POSCOLIERO (10 Adrian CACERES 59), 22 Jake McGING, 5 Harry ASCROFT, 3 Joshua ROSE; 16 Liam ROSE (15 Matthew SIM 84), 8 Nick MONTGOMERY (7 Fabio FERREIRA 77); 11 Nick FITZGERALD; 2 Storm ROUX, 9 Roy O’DONOVAN, 6 Mitchell AUSTIN
Subs Not Used: 40 Thomas HEWARD-BELLE (rgk), 19 Josh BINGHAM
Yellow Cards: Harry Ascroft 38; Red Cards: Nil
Coach: Tony Walmsley
Brisbane Roar FC: 21 Jamie YOUNG; 19 Jack HINGERT, 14 Daniel BOWLES, 13 Jade NORTH, 3 Shane STEFANUTTO; 7 CORONA; 8 Steven LUSTICA (18 Javier HERVAS 46), 17.Matt McKAY (C); 10 HENRIQUE, 9 Jamie MACLAREN 11 (Jean Carlos SOLORZANO 55) , 22.Thomas BROICH
Subs Not Used: 36 Andre JANNESE (rgk), 15.James DONACHIE
Yellow Cards: Shane Stefanutto 5, Corona 27; Red Cards: Nil
Coach: John Aloisi
Referee: Chris Beath
Assistants: Ashley Beecham and Owen Goldrick; Fourth Official: Srebre Delovski
Ratings and points
3. Matt McKay (BR)
2. Jade North (BR)
1. Mitchell Austin (CCM)