Mariners v Victory

A-League report by Chris Dunkerley
Central Coast Mariners v Melbourne Victory

The Central Coast Mariners let 2 points slip when they were unable to take any of the many chances they created, ending in a 0-0 draw with visitors Melbourne Victory.

Victory coach Mehmet Durakovic was forced to make five changes from the Brisbane game while Mariners coach Graham Arnold named un-changed strating 11 (but brought John Hutchinson, back from China, onto the bench).

It was a strong start, with youngster Bernie Ibini-Esei making a 7th minute run out on the right, jockeying defenders and making space. He sent in a daisy-cutter that almost slipped under the young Melbourne goalkeeper Lawrence Thomas.

There was a running battle to contain Victory's wide man Fabio, that led in the 12th minute to Mariner's Pedj Bojic being shown yellow, and Fabio being booed everytime he got near the ball all game.

In the 29th minute there was a dramatic passage of play that saw the ball on the visitors cross-bar twice. From a ball-contest after a corner from the left, Michael McClinchey lifted the ball over Thomas and it hit the under-side of the crossbar bouncing down where Roddy Vargas was quick to kick it over his head. It fell into the path of Daniel McBfreen whose header again caught the underside of the bar and then the right upright. Boun cil back into the box it was batted away by Thomas. The ball never did cross the line, to the Mariners fans disgust.

In the 31st minute youngster Marko Rojas broke away but his shot was blocked.

The visitors twin streak-force of Archie Thompson and Daniel Allsopp, seen many times before at the stadium, was getting frustrated by the smart work of the Coast's centre pairing of Patrick Zwaanswijk and Alex Wilkinson.

At 40 minutes Marko Rojas played a delighful ball through for Archie Thompson runing into the area but just as he loomed large, Alex Wilkinson swung he leg and swept the ball clear.

Five minutes after the break Oliver Bozanic, who was back to his pre-Olympic squad role and form, took a stinging shot that was spilled by Thomas but there was no follow up.

In the 56th minute Joshua Rose floated a cheaky ball over Thomas but it curled away from the goal-line and continued on just wide of the goal.

McBreen sent a strong header in from an early cross from the left but it sailed over in the 80th minute and repeated a header just before time but the Mariners were to rue those chances not put away.

After the game Graham Arnold said he was pleased with the effort of his players, however bemoaned their inability to take full advantages of the numerous chances they crafted in the final third. "I felt that any other night it could have been a much better scoreline for us." Arnold said, "For us to be successful we have to be more ruthless in front of goal, and that is what I just said to the boys". "We had enough chances to win five games."

Arnold praised his side for restricting a talented Melbourne Victory outfit to only a few half-chances throughout the game. "I thought overall that it was a good performance. Defensively we restricted them to basically nothing. Football wise, I thought we moved the ball around real well."