Last Friday was up there with the most enjoyable Mariners home nights ever. An improved performance in terms of atmosphere by Mariners fans starting with the pre-game march to the stadium, an exciting comeback win and an emotional farewell to fans favourite Tom Rogic. The pre-match fan march was very successful and there is now a growing number of supporters of all types joining in. Involving the crowd in announcing the Mariners player’s surnames was also very successful and I believe these two things contributed to the average size crowd on the night being about as boisterous as any crowd at Bluetongue Stadium has been.
With an unusually enthusiastic atmosphere as the background, the Mariner started the match on fire and probably should have been at least three goals up before the 30 minute mark. Only a lack of finishing quality prevented this occurring. As is often the case in our beloved game, Adelaide were able to come up with a deflected (possible cross) sucker punch which, at least temporarily, stunned and silenced the Central Coast faithful. In turn, for the remainder of the half, all the ascendancy the Mariners had established early seemed to turn into raised confidence for our opponents. At the Half Time break the score was 0-1 and the crowd was still trying to recover from shock.
Thankfully it was more Mariners dominance in the second half and there was a steely determined look about the players as the second half got into full swing. Over the period between half time and around the 60th minute passed, Mariners fans began to find their voices again and when Mitchell Duke equalised in the 68th minute and then followed up with second 5 minutes later, the crowd was in raptures. It was brilliant to see our young star taking his chance so emphatically. New recruit Nick Fitzgerald entered the fray and topped off a wonderful performance by picking up the assist on a beautifully executed team goal to Michael McGlinchey that completed the 3-1 victory.
Despite having failed to make it to last season’s Grand Final, from a fans point of view, a significant rivalry exists between the Mariners and Roar. Fans have already started the banter and I expect it will ramp up as the match approaches. Now is a time when Mariners fans will be hoping for a little “pay back” after some of the historical dominance our rivals have established, but should be guarded in their sledging as they will be acutely aware how easily Brisbane could turn back into the nemesis they were a year or so ago. Coming off an away win over Perth Glory, Brisbane will be no easy beats this week. With some personnel changes and perhaps a little momentum from their Perth feats they’re likely to be sharp and ready for the table toppers.
For the Mariners, it would be hard for the players not to take a lot of confidence from their comeback win over Adelaide and they should arrive in Brisbane eager to continue that form. With Arnie’s goal of making 50 points in the back of their mind I think they will be as switched on as ever, if not more, as I imagine one or two Mariners players have the odd bad memory of past matches with our northern rival, especially the 2010/2011 Grand Final, to avenge.
With the Mariner’s returning to form last week and Brisbane going through transfer window changes, I think the Mariners can continue their winning run by overcoming the Roar. This will be no easy game tho, I expect it to be close all the way to the wire.
My prediction is Mariners by 1Google+