Mariners v Glory

Cup report by Chris Dunkerley
Central Coast Mariners v Perth Glory

When Noel Spencer held aloft the shiny silver cup in Gosford tonight in front of 6,609 fans, he held aloft the hopes for football on the Central Coast.

A single goal against Perth Glory headed in by Stewart Petrie in the 38th minute sealed this historic win for the Mariners.

Perth Coach Steve McMahon was forced to bring a threadbare squad over east due to injuries and the suspension of key striker Bobby Despotovski. Nevertheless he was reported during the week to be keen to lift the cup despite his team being 'on the road' for several weeks.

Mariners coach Lawrie McKinna also had injury problems but was able to welcome back key defenders Andrew Clark and Michael Beauchamp (from national team camp), and striker Stewart Petrie. This was just as well as he elected to risk Nick Mrdja who was troubled in training, and as it turned out he had to send Petrie on for Mrdja with only 16 minutes gone.

Perth showed from the whistle that they weren't there to make up the numbers, playing 4-4-2 they switched Adrian Caceres from the left last week to play on the right and Naum Sekulovski on the left, starting Young Socceroo striker Nick Ward in behind.

It was Caceres who caused the Mariners concern when he got up well and in behind on the right after 5 minutes.

This pressure was short lived as the Mariners lifted the tempo through the midfield and danger for Glory in the 10th minute when a great through ball was threaded by Damien Brown to Nick Mrdja but Jason Petkovic was very quickly out to smother.

A let-off for Perth when Petkovic spilled a ball onto the back of his defender and was fortunate to see it roll across the box to another defender rather than a Mariners player.

The Mariners were opened up in the 28th minute when Matt Horsley made a run down the right and sent a great ball into a lunging Henry Fa'arodo but the Solomon Islands international striker could not connect.

Young Matt Osman took responsibility for taking a shot in the 37th minute when receiving free on the right, he looked up and struck a wicked shot from 25m that Petkovic did well to see and make a diving save forcing the ball out of play.

From the resulting corner taken on the left by Tom Pondeljak saw Noel Spencer nod it back into the box from the right. With many bodies struggling to connect it was Stewart Petrie whose head forced the ball into the roof of the net with Petkovic unable to contain it. 1-0

It could have been two when Pondeljak sent a scorching drive on target but Petkovic did very well to save.

Glory pushed three men into attack in an attempt to get the equaliser, pushing Billy Celeski up on the right and moving Caceres inside.

Glory were unlucky not to snatch the coveted equaliser before half-time when John Crawley was beaten by a ball that smashed against his crossbar, as Scott Miller had slipped the ball outside on the left to Nick Ward who stepped inside and curled his strike very nicely, but he had no luck.

After the half-time break Perth got first hope when Fa'arodo sent a speculator from the left well over the crossbar and not troubly Crawley at all.

Celeski and Horsley combined well after 8 minutes to get behind the defence on the right but Wilkinson cleared.

Noel Spencer tested Petkovic when his 58th minute header into the top right coner was plucked down.

Last roll for Glory coach McMahon to change his side around when he brought on Hiroyuki Ishida in the 68th minute and he immediately made an impression.

In the 71st minute Alex Wilkinson, freed up on the right by the replacement of Wayne O'Sullivan with Michael Beauchamp, got to the byeline and cut the ball back for Matt Osman but they could only force a corner.

Damien Brown had been causing havoc down the left side, and notably in the 80th minute he moved well forward, slipping the ball into Stewart Petrie. The Scottish born player tried to pick out Matt Osman in the area but the former Northern Spirit youth player was too slow to respond. The game ended with little joy for Glory, only a 85th speculator from 25m on the left causing Crawley any concern.

A good game, played between too teams making the most of the extra competitive pre-season game, that brought the encouraging crowd at the little used boutique stadium into the game.

The A-League proper starts next Friday, with one of the games being between these two clubs. The Perth Glory fans will be in for an entertaining tussle indeed. Glory head back home west with a better idea of how their team can be configured and the Mariners get to enjoy to shiny cup for a few days before jetting west on Thursday without injured former Glory player Nick Mrdja.