Melbourne Victory 2 Central Coast Mariners 2
By Roy Hay
Melbourne Victory and Central Coast Mariners shared the points in a two-all draw at AAMI stadium before 9,674 fans, the lowest crowd for a home league match involving the Victory since the A-League kicked off.
With a Metallica concert in opposition across the road, perhaps this was the reason, but the Mariners have never been a great drawcard despite their efforts under Lawrie McKinna and current coach Graham Arnold.
Victory had both Robbie Kruse and Archie Thompson available for the first time this season.
The Mariners were without John Hutchinson who was on international duty.
Victory had a number of early chances but Robbie Kruse, Carlos Hernandez and Archie Thompson put them wide or straight to the keeper.
In 29 minutes Alex Wilkinson sent a long diagonal lob over the Victory backline which stood expecting offside while Daniel McBreen ran through, collected the ball and fired it home off Michael Petkovic’s leg.
On the balance of play Victory should have been ahead at this stage, but from then until the interval play deteriorated with Victory giving the ball away almost every time they approached the visiting defence.
There were no changes in personnel at the break, but Victory turned the match around in two minutes of frenetic action.
Carlos Hernandez sent over a corner from the right. Kevin Muscat looped a header back across the goal area and fellow defender Adrian Leijer knocked it down into the goal area where the third defender Rodrigo Vargas forced it over the line.
That was in 62 minutes.
Two minutes after that Victory was ahead.
Robbie Kruse was pulled down by Pedj Bojic and Carlos Hernandez sent the free kick into the top left corner of the goal.
That should have settled the match for Victory but in the 78th minute Oliver Bozanic’s corner kick caused chaos in the home penalty area and in trying to clear Grant Brebner struck the ball against Michael Petkovic’s foot and it rebounded into the net. So the damage in this case was entirely done by Victory itself.
Ernie Merrick and Rody Vargas thought that Victory had improved its performance considerably since the defeat last week in Perth and Graham Arnold concurred that Victory was the better team on the night.
The Mariners really created only two clear chances in the match but came away with a point, though its players were very disappointed after the match according to the coach and Josh Rose.
Merrick pointed out that Archie Thompson still did not have 90 minutes under his belt since recovering from injury, but thought that his team had the majority of the play and might have built a good early lead.
The result leaves Victory in the top half of the table and with senior players returning and the youngsters getting more game time, the second half of the season could be more impressive than the first.
Melbourne Victory 2 (Rodrigo VARGAS 62’, Carlos HERNANDEZ 64’) Central Coast Mariners (Daniel MCBREEN 29’, Grant BREBNER, own goal, 79’)
Thursday, 18 November 2010
AAMI Park, Melbourne
Local kick-off: 7:30pm
Referee: Gerard PARSONS
Assistant referee: Luke BRENNAN and Hakan ANAZ
Fourth official: Lucien LAVERDURE
Melbourne Victory squad: 1.Michael PETKOVIC, 2. Kevin MUSCAT, 6. Leigh BROXHAM, 8.Grant BREBNER, 10. Archie THOMPSON (13. Diogo FERREIRA 77’), 11.Marvin ANGULO, 12.Rodrigo VARGAS, 14. Billy CELESKI (15.Tom PONDELJAK 79’), 16.Carlos HERNANDEZ (3. Mate DUGANDZIC 84’), (gk), 21. Robbie KRUSE 23. Adrian LEIJER.
Substitutes not used: 20.Sebastian MATTEI
Yellow cards: 23. Adrian LEIJER 44’, 8. Grant BREBNER 54’
Red cards: Nil
Central Coast Mariners squad: 20. Mathew RYAN, 2 Daniel MCBREEN (12. Matthew LEWIS 90’), 3. Joshua ROSE, 4. Pedj BOJIC, 6. Patrick ZWAANSWIJK, 8. Rostyn GRIFFITHS, 11. Oliver BOZANIC, 14. Michael McGLINCHEY, 18. Alex WILKINSON (c), 19. Matt SIMON, (gk), 22. Mustafa AMINI (23. Adam KWASNIK 71’).
Substitutes not used: 17. Chris DOIG, 30. Paul HENDERSON.
Yellow cards: 2. Daniel MCBREEN 60’.
Red cards: Nil