Central Coast convincing winners in cellar-dwellers clash

by Jeremy Ruane:
with the compliments of www.sportswebsoccer.com

Hyundai A-League – Season 13 – 2017/2018 – Round 8

5:35pm, Saturday 25 November, 2017 – Westpac Stadium, Wellington, NZ

Wellington Phoenix FC 1 (Vidosic 70′)
lost to
Central Coast Mariners FC 4 (Kaludjerovic o.g. 38’, De Silva 53’, Hoole 67’, Buhagiar 90’+4)


The bottom two teams in the Hyundai A-League clashed at Westpac Stadium on November 25, and Central Coast Mariners made the most of the chance to climb away from the bottom rung on the ladder, convincingly conquering a poorly performed Wellington Phoenix 4-1 in front of just 5,679 fans.

How league management hasn’t yet got the message that the New Zealand-based franchise simply isn’t fit for purpose in Australia’s showpiece competition defies logic! Consistently sub-standard on-field displays, crowd numbers which have you feeling sympathy for those who’ve parted with their hard-earned to endure the mediocrity to which they are subjected …

Perhaps the only thing saving Wellington from having time called on their involvement in the A-League, and, as a consequence, their very existence, is the fact that Football Federation Australia themselves are in something of an organisational shambles, and need to get their own house in order first and foremost – “people who live in glasshouses shouldn’t throw stones”, and all that.

The visitors began brightly, threatening on a handful of occasions inside the first five minutes, including a third minute raid which saw Tom Hiariej and the outstanding Daniel De Silva combine on the right before bringing in Andrew Hoole, whose through ball invited Kwabena Appiah-Kubi to dash through on goal, only to be thwarted at close quarters by recalled Wellington goalkeeper Lewis Italiano.

The home team responded in the sixth minute, Roy Krishna’s pace allowing the Fijian to engineer an opening for Guilherme Finkler, whose ferocious fifteen yarder left Ben Kennedy rooted to the spot – ‘twas a rather relieved goalkeeper who saw the ball career inches past the far post.

Six minutes later, Ali Abbas and Dario Vidosic combined on the left before bringing Andrija Kaludjerovic into play. He turned the sphere into Krishna’s stride, but he shot straight at Kennedy, with Kye Rowles reacting quickest to the rebound to clear the danger.

After Hoole had gone close with a twenty-five yard free-kick, Wellington had strong penalty claims turned away by referee Peter Green after Krishna’s run into the penalty area had seen Wout Brama hanging onto his arm, hampering the striker’s pursuit of the ball.

Unperturbed, Wellington kept pressing, Matthew Ridenton releasing Krishna on the right. A low cross duly followed, one which zoomed across the goalmouth, and the bows of the fast-arriving figure of Vidosic as he slid in looking to turn the ball home in the twentieth minute.

Six minutes later, Marco Rossi just got back to cut out a Connor Pain cross intended for Appiah-Kubi, but the visitors maintained the pressure. Hoole somehow wriggled out of two challenges in the 27th minute before threading the ball through for Appiah-Kubi.

Andrew Durante and Italiano combined to thwart his progress, while it was the goalkeeper, four minutes later, who ensured parity was maintained with a fine double-save. Hoole was his first victim in a one-on-one, having been played in by a gorgeous pass from De Silva, towards whom the ball rebounded.

The lively midfielder – far and away the best player on the park throughout proceedings – swiftly worked a one-two with Appiah-Kubi before drawing a smothering save from Italiano, who was relieved to see De Silva’s low cross career across the goalmouth in the 34th minute, after he’d done Goran Paracki a treat with a couple of step-overs, a change of direction and a burst of acceleration to give him the yard’s advantage he needed.

Central Coast finally got the goal their performance merited in the 37th minute. Hoole whipped in a corner which Kaludjerovic, in his eagerness to head clear, succeeded in guiding against the inside of the far post. Italiano’s desperate attempts to keep the ball out were for nought – CCM 1-0.

Right on half-time, Wellington had another penalty appeal turned down, this time via the Video Assistant Referee. Daniel Mullen’s long throw-in to the penalty area clearly struck the arm of Rowles as he attempted to head clear, and he subsequently gained an advantage from doing so, as the ball landed perfectly for him to hook it to safety.

Referee Green wasn’t in a position to see the incident, but VAR Nick Waldron had a birds eye view. Yet he still got it wrong, much to the ire of the Wellington players, who weren’t exactly asking the official if he’d enjoyed his flight across the Tasman prior to this match!

Nine minutes into the second spell, the game was up for Wellington, as Central Coast doubled their lead. Finkler made an awful error of judgement in bringing the ball out of defence, opting for a low percentage pass which gifted possession to Brama.

The ball was swiftly transferred to Pain, who got in behind the defence before whipping in a low cross which Appiah-Kubi turned into the stride of De Silva, whose finish from ten yards was unerring.

Soon afterwards, a slick one-two between Jake McGing and Hoole on the right culminated in the former delivering a teasing cross which Italiano gathered cleanly a split second before Appiah-Kubi clattered into him. Needless to say, the goalkeeper was not best pleased with the antics of his former Wellington team-mate.

Italiano and friends could have no complaints in the 66th minute, as the Mariners made it 3-0 with a goal of great quality. De Silva gave the ball away, but wasted little time in winning it back, paving the way for a move which featured a driving run from Hoole, and a switch of flank to bring Pain into play. He skipped past two opponents before setting up Hoole, whose twenty yard drive arrowed into the top far corner of the net – 3-0.

Hope briefly flittered through the Wellington camp when Vidosic headed home a precise free-kick delivery from Ridenton to reduce the deficit, which substitute Hamish Watson could have done in the ninetieth minute had he guided his header, from an Adam Parkhouse cross, on target.

That was as close as Wellington got in the scrappy final stages, which boasted just two more highlights. Substitute Blake Powell chased down a lengthy clearance twelve minutes from time, only to find Italiano flying at him outside the penalty area in a successful bid to head clear.

In stoppage time, however, Central Coast extended their advantage to three goals. Brama ignited a swift counter-attack which featured McGing and Hoole, whose through ball invited substitute Trent Buhagiar to bear down on goal and pick his spot beyond Italiano, bringing about the final 4-1 scoreline and lifting the victors into fifth place on the table.

Match details

Crowd: 5,679

Wellington Phoenix FC: Italiano (gk); Mullen, Durante (Parkhouse, 62), Rossi (booked, 80), Abbas (booked, 81); Ridenton, Finkler (McGlinchey, 55), Paracki; Krishna, Kaludjerovic (Watson, 77), Vidosic
Unused: nk

Yellow cards: Rossi 80′, Abbas 81′
Coach: Darije Kalezić

Central Coast Mariners FC: Kennedy (gk); McGing, Baro, Rowles (Rose, 89), Golec; Hiariej, De Silva (Buhagiar, 82 (booked, 90)), Brama (booked, 28); Hoole, Appiah-Kubi (Powell, 82), Pain
Unused: nk

Yellow cards: Brama 28′, Buhagiar 90′
Coach: Paul Okon

Points and ratings

Referee: Peter Green 4/10

Match 5/10
Pitch 8/10

Player points
3. Daniel De Silva (CCM)
2. Connor Pain (CCM)
1. Andrew Hoole (CCM)