The Central Coast Mariners were defeated by Melbourne Victory, 2-1, during their April 14 clash at AAMI Park.
Goals to Melbourne Victory’s, Ola Toivonen and Georg Niedermeier, cancelled out, Matt Simon’s, second half penalty, which saw the Victory narrowly edge the Mariners 2-1 at AAMI Park.
In an action-packed opening 45 minutes, goalkeeper, Ben Kennedy, was the hero for the Mariners.
His first serious intervention was in the 13th minute of play, when he went down to his right to save a stinging effort from, Keisuke Honda, before making another timely save in the 41st minute to deny, James Troisi.
The first half saw both teams trade blow for blow, but it was the Victory who strung together a number of passes to cut through the Mariners’ defence and open the scoring through Toivonen.
For the away side, it was, Matt Millar, on the right, who was causing problems for the Victory defence, whilst, Andrew Hoole, Connor Pain and Matt Simon, were also asking questions of their own.
The Mariners went into the break with a one-goal deficit, but came out firing in the second half, determined to make up the ledger.
It was Captain, Matt Simon, who provided the equaliser, when he was fouled in the box by, Thomas Deng, and converted his own penalty.
The second half was a much more open one, with both teams creating multiple chances, but it was the Victory who doubled their lead with 10 minutes to go, through Niedermeier.
Alen Stajcic’s Mariners fought valiantly until the final whistle and went agonisingly close to equalising in the 87th minute.
Substitute, Stephen Mallon, cut in from the left and fired a rocket from distance, but an acrobatic, Matt Acton, somehow managed to tip his effort over the crossbar.
Fronting the press gallery post-game, Stajcic said a disappointing first half sealed the Mariners’ fate.
“There was a lot more endeavour there in the second half and the boys followed instructions a bit more,” Stajcic said.
“I thought our first half was pretty poor and we didn’t follow the game plan, so I was disappointed with that aspect of the game, but in the second half we were a lot better with and without the ball.
“We made it hard for them, we came back into the game well, we had a couple of injuries during the game as well, which hampered us a bit.
“We need a lot better tactical discipline if we’re going to compete with a good side like that,” Stajcic said.
Stajcic also told media he would not be shying away from the challenge of getting the Mariners back on track.
“I’ve loved it (Coaching the Mariners).
“It’s been a great challenge.
“I don’t enjoy losing, as you can probably tell.
“I’ve been relishing the challenge, to be able to get up and come to work every day and be challenged is definitely something that I look forward to.
“It’s been rewarding, it’s been tough, it’s been a massive learning curve, but I’ve loved every minute of it.
“The club really wants to pick itself up.
“We want to provide a foundation for the club to grow on for next season, the season was gone from a finals perspective when I arrived.
“We’ve seen some good moments, some good team spirit, there are some quality players there but for us now we’ve got two matches left where we are playing for our lives and improvement for the team and the club.
“Whether I’m the coach or not we want to set a platform for next year.
“This week we signed, Jack Clisby, so whether I’m coaching or not, there needs to be a good strong base of players that can take the club forward and be more competitive,” Stajcic said.
Website, Apr 14
Tyson Scott, Central Coast Mariners Media