Melbourne City grab draw at Gosford

By Paul Green

Hyundai A-League – Season 13 – 2017/2018 – Round 16
5pm, Sunday 14 January, 2018 – Central Coast Stadium, Gosford

Central Coast Mariners FC 2 (Alan Baro Calabuig 13′, Jake McGing 50′)
drew with
Melbourne City FC 2 (Ross McCormack 42′, Marcin Budzinski 86′)

 

It could and probably should have been another home win for the Central Coast Mariners when they hosted top-four side Melbourne City at the Central Coast Stadium on Sunday evening.

But a lack of focus and the usual litany of wasted chances allowed a ten-man City to come twice from behind and snatch a 2-2 draw.

Having lost a key defender, Harrison Delbridge, to an unnecessary red card in only the 27th minute the visitors upped their game and began to look the more positive side, with temporary injury-replacement, Ross McCormack, once again proving his worth as a stand-in for the club’s talismanic striker Bruno Fornaroli.

McCormack has been scoring goals for fun, many of them from brilliantly-delivered free-kicks, but this time he showed a true striker’s instincts to turn sharply in the 42nd minute and cancel out Alan Baro’s opening goal for the Mariners which came as early as the 13th minute.

There were multiple changes in both teams, due to suspensions, injuries and international call-up, but the Mariners have been used to being unable to field a settled side, so nothing was new there for them.

Storm Roux returned to the starting eleven and Lachlan Wales came in for the, suspended Andrew Hoole and took over that role to perfection. His dead-ball deliveries were spot-on and his running down the left flank was a sign that the youngster could easily fill in for Hoole any time, if not win a permanent spot for himself.

Melbourne City have been unconvincing on the road this term and the progressive loss of players as the season’s worn on, with the likes of Tim Cahill followed out the door by other regulars, has made coach Warren Joyce’s task unenviable, as the big-spending club tries to match its other main rivals in the competition.

The Sunday evening game came on a cool and very windy day with players struggling to judge the flight of the ball and underestimating the severity of the conditions, especially early in the match.

The Mariners had the wind behind them in the first half and it seemed to suit them, but apart from that Alan Baro goal they had little to show for their handling of the tricky conditions.

To go in at half-time at 1-1 was not what their first-half performance had suggested would happen, as they were seen at their best for some time, with excellent running and passing.

As the game progressed conditions hardly changed, but both teams had made the necessary adjustment to cater to the strong breeze.

The Mariners looked good in the second-half too, though there was little indication that Melbourne City were short-handed as they seemed to match the home side in every department.

It again looked good for the Mariners only five minutes after the resumption when defender Jake McGing was on hand to steer the ball home, after Lachlan Wales’s corner from the left had been headed against the bar by an opposition defender, to make it 2-1.

That goal had almost replicated the Mariners’ first goal, another super Wales delivery, the earlier one from a corner on the right which proved too awkward for the City defence to deal with. Antony Golec got up well and headed against the crossbar and the rebound sat up well for Alan Baro to nod the ball home.

That goal showed immense promise and Wales continued to delight with his wing-play and set-pieces, while City toiled hard, as McCormack showed no lack of appetite for the hard graft necessary to cope with the absence of the dismissed Delbridge.

Delbridge made a rather rash tackle on Blake Powell close to the half-way line, needlessly incurring the wrath of referee Adam Kersey and bringing Mariners’ coach Paul Okon storming off his seat to demand punishment for the serious foul play.

After that City girded their loins and gritted their teeth to try and gain something from the match.

A top save from Ben Kennedy denied McCormack in the 35th but City sensed that they had seized the initiative and continued to press hard, making few concessions to being a man down.

A free-kick earned deep out from the Mariners’ goal in the 41st minute allowed Osama Malik to send the ball on to Scott Jamieson on the left and the winger cut the ball back into the box, 12 yards out from goal where McCormack had found some space. The Scot turned sharply and drilled the ball low past Kennedy and into the bottom right corner of the goal to level the scores.

After the Mariners had regained the lead in the 50th there was every sign that the home side still had plenty to do if they were to emerge victorious as City were still full of running,

While Okon sent on Liam Rose and Josh Bingham to take over from Tom Hiariej and Kwabena Appiah-Kubi respectively in the 65th, counterpart Warren Joyce opted to bring off top talent Daniel Arzani. who’s been getting rave notices wherever he’s seen.

It looked a big call, but his replacement Nick Fitzgerald, a former Mariner, was up for the task and caused no end of problems down the right wing prompting Okon to haul off Wales and send on Kye Rowles instead.

In turn Joyce brought on Marcin Budzinski with twenty minutes remaining in place of new recruit Dario Vidosic and it proved a sound decision.

The corner from Jamieson in the 86th was difficult for the Mariners to deal with and the ball fell nicely for Budzinski to sweep home into the bottom left corner.

2-2 it finished, then, but before they’d equalised a second time City had thrown everything at Central Coast and went close several times, with Fitzgerald and McCormack combining well.

Not only did McCormack go close with a free-kick in the 68th that barely skimmed the bar, but Ben Kennedy had to be smart to save from McCormack in the 85th, after Fitzgerald’s angled effort in the 70th had fizzed just wide.

In scoring his 13th goal of the season, McCormack became the fastest to reach that target in his debut season. Given he was a mere injury-replacement he’s surely exceeded all expectations.

It was an excellent game, considering the conditions, with honours shared.

City did well to take the point after battling solidly for over an hour with ten men.

The Mariners will take heart from the showing of Lachlan Wales who received a very warm ovation as he left the field.

Central Coast now back up on Saturday night at Sydney Football Stadium against the competition leaders Sydney FC who are getting nervous after seeing such a strong push from Newcastle Jets in recent weeks. Given that the Mariners have already lowered the Sky Blues’ colours once this season, the only side to do so, albeit at Central Coast Stadium, the match should be a tremendous derby occasion for both sets of supporters.

A week later the Mariners entertain Brisbane Roar at Central Coast Stadium.

Melbourne City take on big improvers Adelaide United on Sunday at their Melbourne home ground.

Match details

Crowd: 6,263

Central Cloast Mariners FC: 1. Ben Kennedy; 4 Jake McGing, 15 Alan Baro Calabuig (c), 5 Antony Golec, , 2 Storm Roux; , 22 Jacob Melling, 6 Tom Hiariej (16 Liam Rose 65); ; 13 Kwabena Appiah-Kubi (17 Josh Bingham 65), 24 Lachlan Wales (21 Kye Rowles 75); 9 Felix Asdruval Padron-Hernandez, 8 Blake Powell

Subs not used: 20 Adam Pearce(rgk), 25 Peter Kekeris

Yellow cards: Antony Golec 45′, Tom Hiariej 63′, Jake McGing 83′
Coach: Paul Okon

Melbourne City FC: 1 Dean Bouzanis (gk); 3 Scott Jamieson, 5 Bart Schenkeveld, 22 Michael Jacobsen, 4 Harrison Delbridge; 6 Osama Malik, 26 Luke Bratten; 10 Dario Vidosic (27 Marcin Budzinski 71); 37 Nathaniel Atkinson, 44 Ross McCormack, 14 Daniel Arzani (7 Nick Fitzgerald 51)

Subs not used: 18 Eugene Galekovic (rgk), 2 Emmanuel Muscat, 34 Connor Metcalfe

Red card: Harrison Delbridge 27′; Yellow cards: Nil

Coach: Warren Joyce

 

Points and ratings

Referee: Referee: Adam Kersey 8/10

Assistant Referees: Lance Greenshields and Matthew McOrist

Fourth Official: Adrian Arndt; Video Assistant Referee: Srebre Delovski

Match: 7/10

Pitch 8/10

Weather: Cool and very windy

Player points:

3. Ross McCormack (MC)

2. Lachlan Wales (CCM)

1. Alan Baro Calabuig (CCM)

Photo: Central Coast Stadium (BOTN Archive photo only – by Lowenna Rappo)

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