Melbourne Heart and Central Coast Mariners draw one-all
By Roy Hay
Melbourne Heart needed a win over Central Coast Mariners to keep its hopes of a finals position in its first season alive for another week.
In the end it got a one-all draw which suited neither team.
The result confirmed Brisbane Roar as the league champion after the home and away matches since it cannot be caught by any of the chasing pack.
For a while it looked as if the match would not take place as the rain poured down.
At 7.40 pm the pitch was completely waterlogged as a fierce storm hit Melbourne, but by 8.40 pm the lake had receded and final decision was made at 9 pm to kick off at 9.15 pm. Referee Strebre Delovski was able to kick the ball along the ground into the goals from around 30 metres out with little effort, so he declared the surface playable.
The drainage at AAMI Park has proved to be exemplary and the pitch played well throughout, though there were a couple of episodes which could be attributed to the weather.
Michael Beauchamp and Adrian Zahra were the major absentees for Heart, while Central Coast had a nearly full strength squad.
The two teams put on an open and exhilarating game in the conditions.
In the first half neither side was able to dominate for any length of time and both kept giving the ball away during transitions between defence and attack which frustrated both coaches.
The Mariners almost took the lead after 6 minutes when Michael McGlinchey’s grounder slipped out of Clint Bolton’s grasp and the keeper only managed to grab it before it fully crossed the goal line.
It was a very near thing, but replays and the keeper’s own assessment confirmed that the officials got that decision right.
When Gerald Sibon was brought down in the 19th minute he took the free kick and young Matthew Ryan fumbled the shot round the post for a corner-kick.
A minute later Josip Skoko set up Aziz Behich for a cross with a delightful reverse pass, but John Aloisi’s header was held at the second attempt by Ryan.
Matt Simon went down with what appeared to be a medial ligament problem and was replaced by Adam Kwasnik in the 35th minute.
The first half ended goalless and Skoko did not return for the second having received a knock on the knee in the final minutes of the first.
He was replaced by Brendan Hammill.
The two goals came within a minute of each other and the first was one of the most bizarre of the season.
Matt Thompson took a free kick deep in his own half, lofting the ball ahead of his own forward line.
But Matthew Ryan misjudged the bounce and the ball looped over him and over the line as he tried to recover by catching it, rather than knocking it away. That was in the 49th minute.
The Mariners went straight up the other end and Joshua Rose got clear down the left and fired the ball into the danger area.
Daniel McBreen forced the ball over the line despite the best efforts of Clint Bolton.
Alex Terra crossed for Sibon to slide in, but the latter drove the ball past the post.
Heart’s Kamel Ibrahim came on for Rutger Worm and John Hutchinson replaced Patricio Perez for the Mariners.
Neither side could conjure up a goal and the match ended one-all.
Both coaches said they and their teams wanted to play the game despite having to warm-up three times.
John van’t Schip admitted that Heart had now lost its chance to taking part in the finals in its first season, though conceding that a peculiar combination of results could see his team squeak into the play-offs.
Graham Arnold was enormously proud of his Mariners for their resilient spirit and said they deserved their second spot on the ladder and double chance, which they can secure with a win over Gold Coast in midweek.
Melbourne Heart 1 (Matt THOMPSON 49’) Central Coast Mariners 1 (Daniel MCBREEN 50’
Friday, 4 Feb 2011
AAMI Park, Melbourne
Local kick-off: 8:00pm
Referee: Strebre DELOVSKI
Assistant referees: Luke BRENNAN Hakan ANAZ
Fourth official: Kevin DOCHERTY
Melbourne Heart: 1.Clint BOLTON, 2.Michael MARRONE, 4.Simon COLOSIMO, 6. Matt THOMPSON, 7.Rutger WORM (14. Kamal IBRAHIM 63’), 9.Gerald SIBON, 10.Wayne SRHOJ (22.Nick KALMAR 87’), 11.Alex TERRA, 15.John ALOISI, 16.Aziz BEHICH, 20.Josip SKOKO (3.Brendan HAMILL 46’)
Substitutes not used: 12.Peter ZOIS
Yellow cards: Nil
Red cards: Nil
Central Coast Mariners squad: 20. Mathew RYAN, 2. Daniel McBREEN, 3. Joshua ROSE, 4. Pedj BOJIC, 6. Patrick ZWAANSWIJK, 8. Rostyn GRIFFITHS, 10. Patricio PEREZ (7. John HUTCHINSON 80’), 11. Oliver BOZANIC, 14. Michael McGLINCHEY (22. Mustafa AMINI 90 + 1’), 18. Alex WILKINSON, 19. Matt SIMON (23. Adam WASNIK 35’)
Substitutes not used: 30. Paul HENDERSON
Yellow cards: Oliver BOZANIC 55’, Mustafa AMINI 90 + 2’
Red cards: Nil