On a wet and dreary day weatherwise and a disappointing crowd of 5,917 the local derby between Central Coast and neighbours Newcastle didn't rise to great heights and couldn't be called entertaining however it lacked nothing in passion and ended in a draw that sets up some interesting match ups for the future.
An early goal by goal-poacher Ante Milicic for Newcastle was cancelled out by a Stewart Petrie header in the second half.
All the ingredients for a big day seemed to be there during the week, local derby, first game at home for the Mariners after big crowds last week elsewhere, but as well as poor weather which looked far worse than it was, many factors could be blamed for the crowd being thousands under what could have been expected. None of them will matter long term if the club works hard at it, other than indicating that there is a core support base for Central Coast.
On the park the game just delivered what many a derby does - rugged, committed football where both teams negate each others creativity under a blanket of action. That is not to say it wasn't exciting, it was, but not pure entertainment. The clashes between Andrew Clark and Ante Milicic, and Michael Beauchamp and Nick Carle were worth admission alone!
The Central Coast were without key players striker Nick Mrdja and midfielder Tom Pondeljak and that was ecpected to need some adjustment by coach Lawrie McKinna, bringing in NSW Premier League golden boot Adam Kwasnik to attack, partnering Petrie.
Newcastle had a significant number of its side down with flu, but could field its strongest side.
The Mariners attacked from the whistle and in the 5th minute Matt Osman got up on the right, which he did all night, getting in a cross to Adam Kwasnik but his shot went straight to Liam Reddy.
Early patient buildup saw the Central Coast getting the ball into the area for a volley by Kwasnik in the 12th minute, but it was wide on the right.
Both sides were having a real go at each other, not necessarily pretty but you can't question the commitment. In the 14th minute Osman swung a sweet cross over from far up on the right and as it went across the goal-mouth Petrie could not get a touch.
Newcastle got a chance at last when Matt Thompson took a short corner, that had been awarded oddly after both ref and assistant had signalled a goal kick. He knocked it short to Nick Carle, who hit it curling across the goal to where Ante Milicic had 'ghosted' and the crafty striker stuck it in past a wrong-footed John Crawley, with claims off off-side turned down.
Three minutes later Petrie struck a shot well but it was deflected for a corner, and then in the 38th minute a hand ball against a Jets defender in the box was not seen.
Overall the Mariners had the better of the half, but Newcastle was not allowing them to settle their usual fast passing game in midfield and did well to go into the break one up!
The second half started as the first ended, with both sides battling in midfield.
McKinna had seemingly fine-tuned the shape of his team, and in the 57th minute Dean Heffernan got foward, as he hadn't first half - crossing straight to Petrie who shot but straight along the ground to Reddy in the Jets goal.
The Mariners were getting more change out of their possession, and in the 61st minute Noel Spencer tried to emulate his last week;s goal, but it went along the ground to the 'keeper.
A chance to Newcastle through Nick Carle in the 67th minute, who evaded his marker and got a shot on target that forced John Crawley to deflect for a corner.
In the 69th minute the Mariners got their deserved equaliser by Stewart Petrie. Andre Gumprecht got forward and across to the right, received a through ball from Spencer, and sent over a curling cross keeping it away from the keeper. Petrie met the cross with a string header that almost turned the 'keeper inside out!
Newcastle's Carle again managed to get a shot in on a breakaway set up by Stuart Musialik, but his shot was wide on the left.
Nick's brother Leo Carle had come on for Central Coast, and sent over a cross from the right, ending on the head of Petrie but the Scottish veteran's looping header dropped just past the top left corner of the goal.
Newcastle needed three points in this short league but can't be disappointed with the one as the Mariners had better of the game, but the home team will worry that their usual game was so hard to put on the park with Tom Pondeljak out.