Queensland Roar put to rest the draw hoodoo with a clinical 3-1 win over Central Coast Mariners despite being down finally to 9 men - due to red cards.
There had nolt been a lot to play for in this decider for 3rd and 4th spot in the Pre Season Cup, but there was passion, incidents, and drama to keep the crowd entertained (even if most rued the final score).
The Mariners played a number of fringe players, starting with Matt Simon partnering Adam Kwasnik up front, and injury affected Andrew Clark taking first half in defence to be replaced by the convalescing Tony Vidmar at half-time. Queensland also played squad players, with Roar coach Frank Farina stating after the game that "I don't look at it as a starting 11, no it's a squad thing! We've 21 players on out roster and I expect that all 21 players if called on will play and do well!"
The Mariners started brightly with Matt Simon putting himself about, generally under the eye of former Socceroo Danny Tiatto, so it was rewarding for the young striker when after Danny Tiatto was disposessed he was played-on out on the right by a square ball from a resurgent Damien Brown and seeing space in front he strode forward and steered the ball past tyro Roar 'keeper Griffin McMaster. 1-0
18 year old Roar striker Mitchell Nichols, picked up from Palm Beach in the Brisbane Premier League, was creating concern on the right, with his surging runs.
The Mariners were unlucky not to go further ahead in the 28th minute when Brown sent in a pinpoint cross from the left to Andre Gumprecht whose fierce header rebounded from the crossbar with the 'keeper stuck to his line.
The ever present danger of Queensland's strike force was confirmed when in the 30th minute Ante Milicic latched on to a loose ball outside the area on the right and steered past Young Socceroo 'keeper Danny Vukovic (with the aid of a bobble off the pitch). 1-1
The Roar suffered their first red card in the 33rd when Nichols brought down Nigel Boogard from behind with studs showing.
In the 35th minute Mile Jedinak made a run up the left and sent in a cross to Simon, whose curling shot on target brought a fine save out of McMaster in the Qld goal.
Debuting Marquee Socceroo Craig Moore was replaced at the start of the second half by Ben Griffin and Danny Tiatto was replaced by Stuart McLaren as ten-man Queensland looked to dig in.
After the break it was the locals who had concerns as all turned sour for the Coast when in the 48th minute Marcinho tracked across a static defensive line for the Coast and eyeing a chance he seemed to misskick but did get the ball through and past a stationary stranded Danny Vukovic. 1-2
In the 59th minute the Mariners got into range but Matt Simon, who had been played on, shot straight at the keeper.
A controversial off-side call in the 66th minute denied the Mariners the break through they needed, as Gumprecht had steered a strong header into the net.
The Coast continued the pressure and theroetically it should have been all but over when in the 75th minute Seo was walked after an altercation with Nik Mrdja that also saw a yellow card to the Mariners striker.
As for last season's game against the 9 man Victory, the Coast lost their way and instead of tight marking and getting men free, they lay off and openned the game up.
In the 86th minute the home fans groaned audibly as substiture Reinaldo left free by the home defence slotted his shot through the defensive structure, side footing it home.
Desoite having won Roar coach Frank Farina was livid about the red cards and having players suspended just when he was looking to full squad for the start of the season proper.
After the game Mariners coach Lawrie McKinna expressed concern over the two weeks of poor play since his charges were "up for the game against Sydney". "Queensland to their credit got everybody behind the ball and we had nobody with the courage to take the game to them and drag their players out of position, we were just happy to go back to Viddie, Boogs or Wilko, go wide, come back inside and then give the ball away." "He added, "We went from having a good pre-season, to being bad in the last two weeks." He promised that no one's place was guaranteed and they would work hard to be ready for R1.