Mariners do the business

By Paul Green:
Hyundai A-League – Season 13 – 2017/2018 – Round 9

5:00pm, Sunday 3 December, 2017 – Central Coast Stadium, Gosford

Central Coast Mariners FC 1 (Blake Powell 78′)
Perth Glory FC 0


This was the most pleasing of wins for the Central Coast Mariners who have found a rich vein of form after a moderate start to the season, injuries and other absences accounting for some essential reshuffling of playing resources in the weeks leading up to this game.

Blake Powell, for instance, had only returned via the bench at the club’s most recent away game in Wellington and then late in proceedings in a match where the Mariners showed their desire to rid themselves of any hint of being dubbed cellar-dwellers by a demanding mainstream media.

The solid win provided a good platform for this match against the always-competitive Perth Glory at a sun-baked Central Coast Stadium where local fans, the majority of them families, gave the Yellow and Navy-clad locals tremendous vocal support.

The atmosphere at the Brisbane Water facility has always been a warm one, but reduced numbers at some games has rendered the welcome somewhat diluted.

Not so here where over 8,000 turned up resplendent mostly in club colours, a crowd figure that ranked among the highest of the round, even comparing more than favourably with figures posted by Western Sydney Wanderers, Newcastle and Adelaide United.

In a smaller stadium like this one, rather than the cavernous one provided as a poor substititute for their spiritual home of Parramatta Stadium for the Wanderers, namely the 83,000-capacity Olympic stadium, the Gosford-based side thrived.

This game came after a solid effort in their previous game on a difficult Thursday night when the Adelaide side stole the points late.

There was nothing really wrong with that performance, with Storm Roux’s absence covered more than adequately by a rejuvenated Jake McGing, whose marauding runs to the right byline and superb crosses, in tandem with a fired-up Andrew Hoole, had home fans purring.

McGing was again to the fore in this match against Glory and Hoole is really playing well again now as her seems to have found his presence matters more at the Mariners than it ever did in the Sydney FC set-up.

Storm Roux, many feel, could have a fight on his hands to win his place back and that’s a headache coach Paul Okon won’t be too bothered about.

Central Coast Mariners attacked for all they were worth in the first-half and the Perth Glory goalmouth led a charmed life.

There were no weak links in the Mariners’ side, playing great football against an equally well-drilled visiting side from Western Australia.

Nevertheless it always looked as if the locals would emerge victorious, despite their inability to snatch chances inside the six-yard box that came courtesy of wingers Connor Pain and Hoole and wing-back McGing, but the real star of the show was midfield schemer Daniel De Silva, who featured on the front of the club’s match-day programme, ‘The Loose Cannon’ on this occasion.

His probings were giving Glory plenty to think about and their creative work suffered accordingly.

It has to be said that the Perth side were also missing some key players, most notably established Irish star Andy Keogh, together with playmaker Diego Castro and goal-poacher Adam Taggart.

But Glory shaped up well and defended with thorough application before Paul Okon summoned from his bench his ace card, Blake Powell.

Powell, the prolific scorer of the highly-performed Apia-Leichhardt Tigers in NSW NPL1 a few seasons back before moving across the Tasman to play a leading role in the Wellington Phoenix side, has been sidelined for a long time and is slowly finding some fitness, hence his late introduction to this game, in the 77th minute.

Okon had already introduced Liam Rose on the hour mark to add some beef to the left flank, the youngster taking over from the earlier cautioned Kye Bowles and the attacks continued apace for most of the second-half.

Seldom did Perth Glory pose any great threat and it was only their stubborn defence and sound goalkeeping from former Mariner Liam Reddy that had them poised to perhaps take a point back with them across the Nullabor.

That was until Blake Powell raced onto the field in place of the industrious and out-of-luck Kwabena Appiah who’d been more than a handful for the Glory defenders during his time on the field.

Powell, though, provided fresh legs and an innate understanding with his team mates, especially De Silva, with whom he combined with one of his very first touches less than a minute after drawing cheers for his arrival from an enthusiastic and confident crowd.

A tussle for possession was won just inside the Glory half and Powell emerged with the ball at his feet. He spread the ball wide to De Silva who bided his time in getting to the byline as Powell had slipped him the ball some 40 yards out.

De Silva got to the byline and instinctively looked up to see Powell steaming through the middle. His cut back to the edge of the six-yard box alllowed the 26 year old to rifle the ball powerfully in off the underside of the bar and hand the Mariners the lead at long last.

It was a quality strike and a first-class return to the scorers’ list after a year’s absence by Powell.

There’s more to come for sure in the weeks ahead and while the Mariners may not hold onto fourth spot indefinitely, with away games against Melbourne City and Adelaide United sandwiching the team’s next home assignment against the Wanderers in two Saturday night’s time they should be far better placed now than they were before travelling to New Zealand battling to shake off the strugglers tag they’d had to endure to that point.

That was despite beating Sydney FC at home before that home Adelaide United loss.

The return of Powell and the availability afresh of Storm Roux, allied to the strong form of McGing and Hoole, all auger well for the next few games.

There’s probably no reason why the second Sydney side can’t be the Mariners’ victims too, with points in Melbourne and Adelaide also far from being a lost cause now.

Given the form of De Silva, the consistency of players like Tom Hiarej, Antony Golec, Wout Brama and Alan Baro, plus the expected return of Josh Rose, the home crowds, in particular, should continue to turn up in good numbers and the Wanderers apart they also have the traditional New Year’s Eve game against Wellington Phoenix to look forward to as well.

Happy days!

Match details

Crowd: 8,115

Central Coast Mariners FC: Ben Kennedy (gk); Jake McGing, Alan Baro Calabuig (c), Antony Golec, Kye Rowles (Liam Rose +61′); Wout Brama, Tom Hiariej; Andrew Hoole, Daniel De Silva (Trent Buhagiar +90’+1), Connor Pain; Kwabena Appiah-Kubi (Blake Powell +77′)
Subs Not Used: Thomas Glover (rgk), Adam Berry

Yellow Cards: Kyle Rowles 55, Jake McGing 66
Red Cards: Nil
Coach: Paul Okon

Perth Glory FC: Liam Reddy (gk); Jeremy Walker, Alexander Grant, Shane Lowry (c), Joseph Mills; Chris Harold (Mitchell Mallia +72′), Xavier Torres, Brandon Wilson (Jake Brimmer +83′), Jacob Italiano; Joseph Knowles (Yagoub Mustafa +86′), Mitch Nichols
Subs Not Used: Nicholas Feely (rgk), Jacob Poscoliero

Yellow Cards: Nil
Red Cards: Nil
Coach: Kenny Lowe

Referee: Kris Griffiths-Jones 7/10
Assistants: Lance Greenshields and James Tesoriero; Fourth Official: Shaun Evans

Ratings and points
Game 7/10
Pitch: 8/10

Player points:
3. Daniel Dr Silva (CCM)
2. Jake McGing (CCM)
1. Jeremy Walker (PG)

Photo: Central Coast Stadium (BOTN by Paul Green)